This time I’ve spent alone, this solitude, has surprisingly been more thought provoking than silent. Profound truths have been unveiling themselves to me at their own elegant pace. As to where they are coming from and whose schedule they are on, I haven’t the faintest idea. I surely have nothing to do with it. I am currently taking inhales of tobacco smoke from the pack of cigarettes I decided to throw in the fire just a minute ago. Of course, as the pack hit one of the logs and bounced down into the glowing embers, I said to myself frantically “No, wait! Just one!” as the pack absorbed its first flames. Barely thinking, I snatched it from the fire risking third degree burns.. Typical. As I lifted the top, smoke poured out from inside, and I could see the cancerous filters already bubbling with their inherent poison. I thought I could salvage just one. Damn. Watching my behavior in that moment was both intriguing and disconcerting to me. The lack of autonomy in the almost reptilian urge to dive in after the burning cigarettes is comical from an outside perspective perhaps, but to actually be the one diving in is troubling. I didn’t want to smoke those cigarettes; I mean, part of me did, quite bad in fact, but the better part of me didn’t. I think it was the feeling that I had coming out of a long hike in the forest earlier today. I had absolutely no urge to feel like I felt last night, as I drank several beers and smoked cigarettes watching the fire dance in front of me. In reality, it’s not so bad, it actually was a splendid evening, but feeling like a bloated ashtray lying in my tent afterwards was not so splendid.
I knew I didn’t need to pay such an unhealthy price to feel good. The fire should be enough, Mike. The three Sculpins on ice are enough, Mike. The other ‘perspective enhancing’ substance (which will remain nameless) is ENOUGH, Mike. At what point does one’s need to feel good become embarrassing? I guess, for me, this point… But why did I dive in for that one cigarette? I was so sure of myself earlier that day that I would not indulge. I knew if I had one it would just make me want to smoke the rest of them, as once you get cigarette mouth, you might as well just keep smoking because it’s not going away until you brush your teeth the next morning. “Okay, Who cares?” You might ask yourself. “There are bigger problems to have, and anyway, you still threw them out,” you may say. I guess I did do the right thing. My better half prevailed. By a stroke of good fortune, the fire ruined every cigarette before I could change my mind. I contest that it is much better to choose right, and watch a bad habit burn in the fire than to choose wrong and watch a good habit turn to ashes in front of your guilt ridden conscience. The latter seems quite agonizing.
I want to be the best version of myself I can be at any given moment. There is not anything worse than watching you cave. You cannot un-see it. When you choose a lower pattern of behavior, a pattern that submits to transactional pleasure, “push-button happiness “, it’s like the best part of yourself wants to look away but you can’t because YOU are the one that is doing it. It’s like hearing a parent say that they’re disappointed in you, only much worse. You can remove yourself from your parents, but you can’t remove you from you.
Alas! Here is the fork in the road!
We either succumb and continue to bury that feeling with more transactional pleasure, or you can Level Up. You say, I don’t want to feel like that again, and you choose the more challenging and healthier decision. As I am writing this, my new camping neighbor rolled up: neck tattoo, teevas, plumbers crack is a conservative term. This guy goes left at the fork in the road, Which way will you go? I hate that I had to judge him like that for the example of the story, but seriously! Our choices MAKE us. The effects and ripples of our choices provide the fabric of our future.
Now, don’t get me wrong and think that I am saying that the tight-ass way of life is the best way. Think back to my first example. It is a CIGARETTE! I know they are bad for me, and I know it will make me feel good for a few minutes afterward, but ultimately, I know that I will get a headache unless I smoke another. What an unbelievable product… But the point is, I know. I’ve been around this block before, I’ve had conversations with myself about what a poor lifestyle choice it is and how I want to put it away. At one point, until recently, the rock had not sank to the bottom of the pool. I was aware that they weren’t good for me but I had not made the conscious decision to put them away. That was okay, then. It is where I was in my own evolution. The train to the next level had not yet come to the station, but when the train does come (insert alternative metaphor of your choosing here), unless you are terribly comfortable and happy exactly where you are, the only other reasons not to get on are some amalgam of fear and comfort. If you stay on that train for those latter reasons, they will eventually haunt you. That grand and pleasurable place you decided to stay for reasons of attachment will seem increasingly bland as time goes on. It will become stale and claustrophobic. You better hope there’s another train, because if not, it will become your coffin.
P.S. Just so you know there is always another train, just look for the next opportunity, the next fork in the road, the next moment in which you get to choose who you want to become.