Sunday, July 22, 2007


"Three of the four elements are shared by all creatures, but fire was a gift to humans alone. Smoking cigarettes is as intimate as we can become with fire without immediate excruciation. Every smoker is an embodiment of Prometheus, stealing fire from the gods and bringing it on back home. We smoke to capture the power of the sun, to pacify Hell, to identify with the primordial spark, to feed on the marrow of the volcano. It's not the tobacco we're after but the fire. When we smoke, we are performing a version of the fire dance, a ritual as ancient as lightning."

-Tom Robbins, from Still Life With Woodpecker

The last time I smoked a cigarette was with Lauren, in her car, on our way to John F. Kennedy International Airport. That was approximately sixteen days, four hours, five minutes ago. Not that anyone's counting.

The thing about smoking is that it's easy to not do it in new situations, in places that fall out of he real of our everyday existence. I've never really smoked much, for example, while visiting my mother in Anacortes. (Which, now that I think about it, explains in part why I tend to be a complete grump when I'm visiting my mother in Anacortes. It's a wonder she keeps welcoming me back, to tell the truth.) And I've never really smoked much while traveling, whether it was to New Zealand, Nantucket, or France. The hardest part, really, has always been making that transition back to normal day to day life and continuing to not smoke. So far, it's been going alright. But then, it's only been sixteen days, four hours, and nine minutes. Give or take.

"I laughed out loud. 'You masochist! Do you really get that much into pain?' Staring up at the sky I saw the beauty of the moon. My body felt heavy, and my mind unclear. The silence of the night path, a soft fragrance in the wind.

Then it struck me.

A desire for drink in the middle of the night is a wicked demon. It separates you from your spirit and independently takes control. All alcohol is the same, along with violence, drugs, and dieting.

Addictions are universal, regardless of their form.

I can't say if they're good or bad, but they survive. Eventually you can't get enough of them. In the end you're either sick or you've lost your grip. One thing or another. Even when you know you've had more than you can take, they creep back like a wave -- their shape might have changed, but they clean the shore just the same, rolling back, over and over. Silently, back in and back out. Slowly moving away.

Faraway landscapes -- beaches in our lives that bring mitigation and fear.

What do we accomplish through addictions?"

-Banana Yoshimoto, from Amrita

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