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End Of The Wagon Ride?

April 6, 2017

Entertaining humor, a twisted perspective and “How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse” aside, this column is a platform to dispense this writer’s personal experiences. Unlike some wordsmiths who prefer to preach from a precariously perched pedestal pulpit (as though they are somehow above the reader) I prefer to share life’s laughter, tears, love, hate, success and failure from a ground level perspective. Not speaking at you with a hoity-toity, better than though air. But rather speaking to you from amongst the crowd; right beside you (no the other side) letting you know that in this crazy arsed world, you are not alone. Then again you may very well read this column and think, “Oh my gawd what a weirdo!” and then feel better about yourself because you’re not me. Either way-mission accomplished!

Over the years it can be ascertained that some of you have learned from my mistakes or have at least enjoyed laughing at them. Whether you’ve been there yourself or just for a chuckle, the truth is, we all fall down. The trick to falling is to do it with as much grace as possible, whilst making sure that as few people as possible see you. Pretending that you meant to do it and having a good laugh at your own expense. After that, the only thing left to do is get back on your feet a.s.a.p. and try not to lose your footing the same way twice. However, sometimes we fall a little harder than others, it’s very hard to find any humor and getting back up becomes a struggle.

Case in point- four months ago, Thanksgiving seemed like the appropriate time to finally quit smoking cold-turkey (cuz after Thanksgiving you make cold-turkey sandwiches for weeks). This would be the first serious attempt as a veteran smoker of over 25 years. Within the first 48 hours, confronted with the shakes and nausea, it was obvious a crutch was needed. This came in the questionable form of cigars. The concept was to take a few occasional puffs (“puff” is the key word here, no inhaling) to take the edge off. This worked brilliantly and proved that my addiction was more psychological than an actual chemical need.

So for three glorious (sometimes very moody) months I fell into the “former-smoker” category. Then, in the last month, the wagon wheels started to wobble. Things went downhill rapidly from there and all too soon the shaft bent and the wheels flew off. Not only did I fall off the wagon but it ran over me...before it crashed...then exploded. Making excuses or looking for somewhere to place the blame for this failed attempt is pointless. The point is the wagon ride is over, so where do I go from here? What happens next? This was nowhere near as successful as when I tried giving up wearing spandex biker shorts in public 22 years sober (fist-bump).

You can easily find lists of the benefits of quitting smoking. In addition, lists of “how to quit” and “what to expect” when you quit are also easy to obtain. Sadly you can also find lists of “what to expect” when you fail to do so. But hey, you don’t need that list because when that wagon ride is over you will know firsthand.

One would think that once you no longer had the struggle of “quitting” to contend with that falling back into your old habit would be like riding a bicycle. The problem is while you were off the bike someone loosened the handle bars and removed the seat. Not only that, but the road back to smoking is downhill, bumpy and through the woods. Initially it’s a grudging “f*** it” kind of acceptance. Oh well, I failed, whatever! It’s almost a sense of welcome relief the fight is over, you lost, moving on. But as you burn through that first blessed pack of coffin nails the depression of your failure sinks in.

Now that you’ve been smoke-free for a while they don’t taste anywhere near as good as you remember. Nor do they provide that relaxing satisfaction that you formerly associated them with. The psychological lack of satisfaction intermingles with the physical transition of your body succumbing once again to your addiction. It’s at this point you become fully aware that it is an addiction. Each butt you light up and snub out is viewed with a sense of self-disgust, but if your intentions are to get back on that wagon then this is a good thing.

It has been said that nobody ever really quits smoking. This is a lie. Many people do quit and stay quit and it’s a relief to know that many of them didn’t succeed on their first attempt. So just because you fall doesn’t mean you should give up and not get up. Why you failed is irrelevant, don’t focus on what knocked you out of the wagon, but do learn from it as you climb back aboard. As for myself, I’ve accepted the facts of failure, am dealing with the aftermath and already plotting my next attempt. It will take time, patience, perseverance and will power but I’ve got a wheel in hand and my mind set to straighten out the axle to be ready for the next ride. Come the 4th Thursday in November (save the date) I’m looking forward to another (and hopefully my last) helping of cold-turkey.

I welcome almost all questions and comments via FOCUS, or email me at or you can FRIEND me on Facebook under Saw’s Brood!

Hope to hear from ya, until then try and stay focused. See ya!




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