The rain has a way of encouraging men to be more intimate. In my case, it encourages me to smoke a little more than usual. After all, I’ve settled for Pall Mall black (the cheap alternative to the now overpriced Marlboro black) which means I can have two more packs (and forty more sticks) in a week than usual. If I’m going to kill myself bit by bit, I would rather be frugal about it. Glamour in death seems so distasteful anyway. Rock stars and movie stars have made death by overdose look cool and expensive but I can only imagine how awful it truly is to have your life snatched away from you overnight as opposed to your body slowly betraying you through a disease, regardless of how expansive it can be too. At least in the gradual, you have time.
I wish I could quit, wish being the operative word. At this point, I don’t think I can give up the cancer sticks. They calm me in the midst of every day life’s distresses. Smoking is so strangely poignant and poetic too: the crackle of the first grounds of tobacco leaves catching the flame; the tapping of the cylinder to get rid of the accumulating ash; the slow inhalation of the carcinogens which bruise the lungs; the momentary clarity which comes when you exhale the smoke then it wafts in the cool breeze; and in the rain, the heady warmth the cigarette provides while unknotting the sleepy tangles of the mind.
Nevertheless, I certainly do not encourage anyone to smoke; no matter how visually appealing I may have made it appear. Aesthetics should not be the sole reason one commits himself to a vice. For a man who likes to have a certain degree of control over his life, smoking is a bad habit that can exert unwanted control over oneself. I must make it clear that I am not a slave of the nicotine. I’m quite far from being a walking chimney as most people joke. I can go for days without a smoke, and I always make it a point to light-up, as much as I can, in private confines, away from non-smokers who in an age of health consciousness and political correctness, could easily take things to Facebook if you crossed their newly-revised ideas of human rights.
But there’s something breathtaking (no pun intended) about smoking on a rainy day. It’s an eloquent portrait of brevity describing the short lifespan of a cigarette, and the shortened lifespan of the smoker. Against the grey skies stands an ember burning bravely in the quietude of personal thoughts, and against the ticking clock of mortality. Have a cup of coffee, and the whole scene is perfected – a hot drink to wake you, and a smoke to make you sleep. Vices, for all their inherent evils, bring such simple joys, even if at the back of one’s head, such joys will inevitably be bludgeoned by death.
It’s clear to me I’m not going to become a health buff soon. While those who are explain their choice as a choice to improve the quality of life, I have always been uneasy with efforts requiring discipline. Not that writing doesn’t, nor does my work. But against our own physical ends, I would much rather be indulging with the possibility of regret, rather than mortifying while suffering from unquenched curiosity. After all, the quality of on’s life is not always a guarantee there will be no sorrow. Make no mistake, I admire those who have no vices, and who by all means, are physically fit. I admire their discipline, energy, and perseverance. But in a weather like this, I would much rather be smoking away my blues rather with a cup of coffee on my desk, an unfinished essay on my screen, and a song like that below, sifting and sieving through my memories.