Thursday, September 27, 2012

I Finally Quit Smoking (22 Years)... Thanks Sifu, For All The Motivation And Inspiration That FMK Provides!

This has been a big year of transformation for me. It started off January 1st with what I was calling my ‘Resolute Salute’ project. New agers and other Californicated types had been talking about the year 2012 being the world’s end. And while I judged their prophecy as grossly confused, I did (and do) agree that, in many respects, our way of life needs to be brought to its conclusion, that our ‘world’ should end, that we’re overdue to evolve… economically, eco-socially, spiritually.

The way I see it, evolution is not always a gradual process. It can and often does happen very fast, with the arrival of something new and different, something obviously more favorably adapted than the old. I also think, with what we’re facing in the destructive aspects of our global culture, we need to try to establish conditions that will favor the emergence of something evolutionary. For me, this part of the work has involved rescinding my consumer support from many of the more problematic industries, and directing my energies instead toward feeding various relationships with nature.

Around the time I was turning forty, last May, I began including fitness-oriented resolutions into this broader project. Soon I was back into martial arts practice, and my involvement in FMK is part of this. But there has been one habit that I feel has always held me back in the martial arts progress I’ve made as an adult, one aspect of my life that has always made me feel like a fraud or hypocrite, while at the same time limiting my capacity to develop further strength, speed, stamina, and flexibility. That obstacle is tobacco. With exception of just a couple very brief reprieves, I’ve been a cigarette smoker since I was eighteen. I picked up the habit while in the military, when I was depressed, and thought the smokes were rebellious and cool. And they’ve been a part of my reality ever since. Though I’ve kept myself in reasonably good physical shape, in spite of all the smoking, I wonder what might have been if I’d never indulged, or at least put them away at some point.

Well, nothing’s ever going to come from wishing differently of the past. Best to focus on the present, on what can be done right now. So three days ago, this is exactly what I chose to do. I woke up that morning feeling empowered, ready to make a change. I sat down with my video recorder and announced it. I was done smoking. I wasn’t “quitting”… I had already quit… in my mind. And it turns out, that attitude is exactly what I needed to make it real, to live it. As I write this post, it is the end of my third day with no cigarettes, and the urges are rapidly vanishing. I’ve beat it. In hopes that I might inspire someone else who has an addiction he needs to let go of, I’ve been recording a video journal of the experience. Here’s the first 48 hours:

I’m planning to continue the video journal, making a report at Day 7 or so, and maybe two weeks out, or a month. I don’t think the message is going to change at all. The heart of the matter is, the only way to quit something as addictive as nicotine is to absolutely settle it in your mind first, that it’s over. But I do want to confirm that this approach works, and to post it on YouTube in case anyone needs to hear it.

One of the early benefits from this smoking cessation has been a rush of extreme energy. I’ve been sleeping less, and waking up in the dark hours before dawn just excited to get the next day going. I’ve also been eating a lot more. And so, the way I figure it, these two things go together. Eat more, and direct that rush of energy toward some vigorous activity that will guide the nutritive chemicals through my body in healthful ways. What I’ve chosen (thus far) is pre-dawn cardio exercise in semi- free-running fashion. Yep… I’ve been tearing up the neighborhood and nearby coulees looking for obstacles to leap and balance upon. Here’s my video montage from the first two mornings:

As you can see, the river by my house is absolutely gorgeous at dawn. I’ll be running down that way a lot in the mornings to come.


  1. Thank you for sharing. The FMK logo looks really nice on the hoodie, it looks like the embroidered version, how is it? I'm glad that you have decided to put an end to the smoking & take your health and fitness to the next level. I've never smoked before in my life & I'm glad I have never started. It makes it easier to stay away when the addiction is not even allowed to begin, it's the same with alcohol for me. I'm very glad that FMK has been able to keep you motivated & inspired to develop yourself body, mind, & spirit. Even though you are in another country, our consistent communication allows us to feed off one another's positive energy. Although he has not been active on this blog, Todai Ju-long also has the goal of quitting smoking himself.

    1. Thanks, Sifu... I now have three items of apparel with the FMK logo. This hoodie, and jacket that can fit over it, are both embroidered, and I think they look very nice, and certainly are doing what I need them to do so far as the season shifts (it'll get more difficult when we're at -20 degrees). I also bought a silk-screened grey t-shirt with a small logo on the breast and larger logo on the back. This I can wear for indoors or warm-weather stuff.

      As for the smoking cessation, I'm now concluding Day 5 and it's all getting considerably easier. I have wanted to quit off-and-on for many years. Whenever actively involved in martial arts training, the smoking has represented something I was ashamed about, and so I usually kept quiet. Announcing my cessation here, as well as announcing it at the Gohakukai dojo I practice at, both will help me stay committed to the quit, because I won't want to carry that shame again. Of course, it's not like anybody's perfect. We all have bad habits, and opportunities to develop and improve ourselves. Smoking is, in a way, just a really big one that a lot of people get trapped it when they're very young, and looking for some way to symbolically control their lives. But really, when you look at it, that smoke is a signal that something's wrong. You know? We should be like, "Hey, there's smoke coming out of that guy's mouth. He's burning up inside. Something's really wrong." I think, psychologically, that's why young people do it, to send a signal that they're distraught, that something's wrong with their lives. But it's so common that very few people pay any attention to it. Nobody responds. The adults in the young person's life should get serious and really consult them to find out what's wrong when they see the smoking. And they don't. So the young person just goes on, continuing to send out this signal that nobody's paying attention to. And pretty soon, that smoke is a big part of their identity, and a strong physiological addiction - as strong, some say, as heroin.

      I think what's happened with me is that I've just decided that I've had enough trying to signal to others that something's so wrong that I'm going to burn myself inside as protest. It doesn't make any sense to keep this up, nobody's listening. I still think there are lots of things wrong in our world. But now I'm grown up, I have more control of my life, and I'm interested in what I can do to be an example for others about both how to be a real human being, and how to try to create a context where positive change can occur broadly. Smoking doesn't fit with that. Smoking doesn't fit with martial arts. So in order to represent any of this, I know I have to give it up. And I'm ready to give it up. That's what's made the difference... the readiness. Because in order to really quit, it has to be decided and done from the start. With a substance this addictive, you can't mess around and expect to succeed. You can't be 'quitting'... you have to have already 'quit'


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.