Fuego: Reasons Why I Smoke Now and Then

It’s funny how we promise ourselves something that we never actually make good on. For some of us, it’s as simple as not eating a donut ever day, while others may struggle to stay on track with goals for their lives. For me? I watched a lot of people I cared about lose their lives to smoking, drugs, alcohol, and violence. Not necessarily dying, but they’ve definitely changed for the worse. I’m still nowhere near the rabbit holes they’ve dug, but I’ve drank my fair share and broken my skin just as much. Drugs I still haven’t touched, but I’m recently finding myself more and more okay with smoking.

It’s not that smoking is all bad, several studies show how cigarettes actually can help prevent Parkinson’s (in some cases, which I was actually kinda shocked to learn). Nicotine can also help lower anxiety for some, although the negative side effects don’t always make it the best option. Even with these (incredibly few and not really worth mentioning) pros, it’s just as bad for the body in most every possible way. Yet I’ll remind that everything in this life ends with death, literally everything. So whether it’s a meteor, a moronic businessman that thinks he should play president, or a stick of tobacco to the lips here and there, the end result only differs by time.

There’s something romantic about the taste of smoke across the tongue. I can taste an evening on the French Riviera with the first puff. I hear gulls crying by the shore I’ve never seen in person on the second. By the third, all I see are tears from people I’ll never know. Having a nervous tick ripping through anyone can give one’s mind chance to wander towards solutions. Yoga and dark chocolate work here and there, sure, but what’s easier than lighting a stick on fire and resting it between your lips now and then? Sounds a lot more dramatic than it is, but I’m finding that to actually be a passively okay way to chill out.

If I’m out drinking a lot, I’ve thought about it. Think about it more when I’m out for a reason. If it’s easy, I’ll say yes. I’ve been saying yes more and more as of late, and I’m wondering if it’s because I’m okay with it or because I like it. I love fire, I love everything about it. I’ve owned Zippos just to watch a flicker of fire burn. I’ve stood too long over an open flame because I grew lost in their dance. I’ve felt a fire burn inside of and consume me over moments I don’t always care to recall. Now I wonder if consuming the fire, consuming the smoke is just the natural progression of things.

I light another and choke a little the first few tries. Smoking forces me to think about my breathing. I’ve never thought of how fucking my lungs up could help me use them better, but the irony is literally killing me. Exhale, breath in, inhale, breath out. I used to associate that cadence as one fluid motion. Now I separate it, and become conscious of the motion. Meditation is almost completely pointless if the breathing is off, and smoking is no different. However, while meditation fuck ups only result in a lack of calm, messing up a breath with smoking tends to result in a rather volatile coughing fit; perhaps eyes watering and lungs spasm briefly, forcing me to think carefully before I attempt again.

A heavy sigh, and I write another few words in a book I’ll never finish. This time I finish almost the whole cigarette without so much as a cough. I think of how proud I am that it only takes about five of them before I get the motion right again, and then I laugh because I know when I stop for another month or two years, it’ll just take another five before I can repeat the process. Am I doing it just to be cool or to prove something to myself? I ask that question a lot, usually before the last two are gone. Just like my not smoking, some promises aren’t always kept well; being able to understand the why is half the battle. Being able to accept it is the rest.


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