Thursday, July 21, 2011

Week 6 ... and I have not killed anyone yet

    That is correct, its been six weeks and I still have not killed anyone. Yeah me! Wait, maybe some background would help.

    Six weeks ago today was Father Day, the first day in many that was smoke free. Yes, the day before Father Day was the last day I smoked a cigarette, or used any other nicotine product. After six weeks, I can now proclaim that I am smoke free! Yeah me!

    Well sort of ...

    Before I get to deep in to this, yes I am breaking my promise not to get too personal on this blog. I know you are also (probably) wondering why I need to devote an entire blog post about it. I am sure you are asking why even put that kind of information out there, or why not just make it a Google+ or Facebook snip-it, or even worse a Tweet! Well I don't have (and hope I never have) a twitter account. I will hold back my feelings about Twitter for now. That topic could be it's very own post, or even a web site.

    You see, I started smoking when I was thirteen years old, that was 25 years ago. Since then I have put a rather vast amount of chemicals through my body, many probably should have killed me. Some people would, and have, called my very existence nothing short of a miracle. I was even born with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck and starving for oxygen. Probably explains a lot, but I digress.

    The fact is, I am alive, I am doing well, I have a wonderful wife and a great son. I have been many things in my life, even some things I am not very proud of. One thing I have learned is how great the human spirit is. Note: I didn't say soul.

    Modern religion (pick one) tells us, that we are all flawed and evil and sinners and other such nonsense and that the only way to a "righteous blissful existence" is by being saved by the whatever they happen to call their version of the "Magic Sky Wizard" (insert an idea of god here). The very idea of a person being moral, or loving, or generous or in any way a good person with out (a) god, Modern Religion finds not only objectionable, but offensive. We are a stain that has happened into their view that must be erased. Phooey.

    I have been around the world, twice, and I have met with many people of various faiths and belief systems. Some better than others, but all of them had one thing in common: We are right, you are wrong. Well two things if you count the oppression of women. I still haven't figure out why that one is so prevalent.

    What I have learned is that they are all wrong. It is us, people, individuals, that make up society. It is human beings making choices and living out our lives as best we can that make us uniquely human. It is our hopes, our dreams, and our nightmares that make us who we are and guide our judgment. No one knows better how to prey on fear better than a religion.

    The fact is, I chose to start smoking. I chose to continue to smoke for twenty five years. When I chose to stop, I stopped. Yes there was an emotional period that accompanied the effects of chemical withdrawal. Ask anyone who has "detoxified" themselves on their path to becoming a Vegetarian. Around day three they usually feel very bad, even sick as the process continues until it has run its full course. It is the same with smoking. Around day three you become more agitated and aggressive than you normal would be, way more aggressive.

    By understanding this process, and by preparing my family for the effects, I have been successful in quitting smoking. Yes there is a chemical addiction that must be broken. Yes there is a very powerful social aspect that must be cast off and dealt with and you must find new social outlets. Yes there are habits that must be broken. I do not mean to diminish in anyway the difficulty in breaking an addiction, any addiction.

    The fact is people do it every day. People stop smoking, drinking, even cocaine. The problem comes with religious faith. At some point everyone questions their own beliefs and their religion, its human nature to question. The ones that tend to "fall off the wagon", are typically the ones who tried to stop with the power of faith, rather than just believing in themselves. Once you know you can do something, you can do it. Once you know you can drive a car, you don't even think about the process the way you did when you first started to drive. Once you know how to read, you don't worry about adjectives, or the placement of verbs, you just read. Once you know you can stop smoking, you just stop.

    Religion misses the mark when it comes to people. We are not evil, though we are certainly capable of extraordinarily evil acts. We are not perfect, granted, and we will never be, nor should we ever consider ourselves to be. We are also capable of extraordinary compassion.  The fact is, we are what we chose to be. We are soldiers, wives, teachers, scholars, political leaders, judges, priests, followers, police officers and so much more. We are what we chose to be. While there may be no easy choices, there is always a choice.

   Every choice has its consequences, and they are not always apparent at the time we make them. In fact we are often forced to make choices with incomplete or even false information, yet we make them everyday. I chose to smoke for twenty five years. Six weeks ago I chose to stop. That is my choice.