The Future Isn't Happening!

... and the past is moving very slowly.

This post is intended to illustrate my way of thinking, and as some of you probably know, I tend to wax lyrically at times. It's just the way I am.

When I gave up smoking, I wanted to have some milestones under my belt. I wanted to have been quit for a week, a month, six months, a year, two years, five years, ten years. Better still would have been to never have smoked, but of course I couldn't even convince myself of the fact that only yesterday I had puffed about sixty of the damned things. In fact, I counted that over the past several years of smoking, I was rapidly moving toward the half-a-million smoked landmark.

So, I had to make do with wanting the future to happen fast! If only I could fast-forward and post a year of having quit in the penthouse. How cool would that be? I could tell everyone how many I hadn't smoked, how much money I'd saved, and how much healthier I felt. People would praise me for my achievement, and I would feel good about myself.

Damn, only 16 hours since my last one and I'm feeling pretty desperate. I start wondering how I will ever manage "forever" without another cigarette. The future looks bleak. I make a rough calculation of how many years I will need to go without smoking in order to survive the ordeal. How could anybody manage to live that many years without ever having a smoke?

The thought suddenly dawned on me that non-smokers don't sit there with such idiotic notions running around there heads. So why was I? It took a while, but finally I conceded that smoking was a part of my persona, my identity, my raison-d'etre. I think like a smoker, therefore I smoke.

I got to thinking about what motivates me to smoke, and what motivates people to not smoke, and quickly came to the conclusion that people who don't smoke rarely spend a minute thinking about why they don't smoke. They're not interested in calculating how many they haven't smoked, how much money they've saved, how healthy they feel etc. etc. These thoughts don't even register in their minds! They simply get on with living!

Please bear with me as I try to explain the "mind switch" that happened to me as a result of this thought process...

Firstly, what motivated me to smoke was that it was "pleasurable" inasmuch as it relieved me from the tension of not having smoked for the x past minutes, hours etc. I won't go into detail here, as we all know that smoking is an addiction that needs to be fed. Suffice to say that I had to recognize that I was an addict.

The second part of the equation was more subtle, and yet where I found my greatest motivation; Non-smokers don't care about their non-smoking past, their non-smoking present, or their non-smoking future. They are largely living without regard to smoking, not-smoking etc.

Therefore, all I really needed to do was to a) forgive myself for the past, b) not smoke, and c) let the future happen.

It all sounds quite obvious, I know.

Alex.

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  • It all sounds quite obvious, I know.

    Alex.

    Well, it may sound obvious, but to all of us, thoughts like these aren't obvious. If they were, all this hullaballoo about quitting smoking would be pretty short and sweet.

    I smoke.

    I quit.

    I don't smoke.

    Voila!

    But all of us here, and millions of people who aren't here, struggle with what becomes obvious. We don't see it; we can't see it. We have a scotoma - a blind spot - to the obvious.

    To me, insights such as yours are like leaves floating on a stream. They come by, and if we don't make an effort to look straight at them and focus on one, they float right by us. It takes sitting still, picking out a leaf on the water, and really becoming absorbed with it to notice what it has to offer - the splash of color, the delicate way it's formed, whatever.

    (Talk about waxing lyrically!)

    Anyway, my flash of insight is recorded in my signature line: How long will you smoke to avoid three weeks of discomfort? I must have heard that question a hundred times before the day came when I really thought about it. How many indeed?

    Non-smokers don't care about their non-smoking past, their non-smoking present, or their non-smoking future.

    Nope, they don't. And they don't really understand what we go through to become non-smokers, either. They compliment us on our quits, they pat us on the back, and they're genuinely pleased for our progress. But a moment or two later, they're back to their lives, not caring about their non-smoking past, their non-smoking present, or their non-smoking future.

    We'll get there. It takes a LONG time, but thank God most of it is pretty effortless after the quit has become the new normal.

    And what we have then, and what they can't have, is whatever our character is, which was shaped, in part, by our smoking past. Would I rather have been a non-smoker from birth? Of course. But, as an ex-smoker, I have the experience of tackling something that felt nearly impossible to tackle, and I can take pride in that.

    Sure, I wish it was running a marathon or getting a doctorate or something else, but it doesn't matter. I QUIT and I'm a better person for it.

    Sigh. Your post really sent me into the deep secret corners of my brain today! :)

  • ...

    Therefore, all I really needed to do was to a) forgive myself for the past, b) not smoke, and c) let the future happen.

    Alex.

    A perfect nut in a nutshell.....let it go...... dont do it today......let tomorrow be.

    Just gorgeous and simples.

    M:)

  • Powerful stuff Alex76

    It all makes sense, but why, oh why do we dream of that one cigarette?

    Perhaps because I am 'doing' week 2, and I am not feeling it's getting any easier, therefore not being logical. The thought of NEVER EVER smoking again is unbelievably sad.

    Hopefully I can make it to the morning, always a more positive time of day.

    Will re-read your post Alex76 when I am of a better frame of mind, to appreciate the advice.

    Firefly

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