I have reacquainted myself with a daily habit which I was previously proud of eradicating. The dreadful mid-workday-smoke. I label it dreadful because of the company one usually keeps when taking a smoke break at work. Typically, the cast of characters who huddle together once an hour while working usually do so because they take deep issue with their job, and in many cases, life as a whole. They’re usually pissed off about so-and-so, about how smart they are in comparison, and about how they really deserve more from their position (as a crap metaphor for their feelings on their forlorn life).
After a couple of weeks on the job, I decided that this crew was pure poison for me. I already have a shady attitude toward corporate slave labor, and I didn’t need their seething to fortify my already-impressive dismissal of the work week as a brilliant waste of my time. I needed the health insurance, the regularly scheduled paycheck, and some hardened structure to apply to my daily life. I needed those things too badly to allow that disenchanted group of nay-saying tobacco hounds the opportunity to feed my pre-subscription of being wholly against working for ‘the man’. So I decided to skip out on the day-shift smoking ritual altogether.
Every now and again, when under specific and heavy (personal/work) stress, I would wander out to a secluded patio area somewhere for a quick smoke. Maybe once every two months, and only on days with particularly good weather. I would use that time to walk around, make calls on my cell, or get something out of my truck. Those moments were rare, and they were always spur-of-the-moment. I never scheduled those breaks, and I don’t remember any of them occurring on consecutive days.
But today, and yesterday, I have gone out for a post-lunch cig. No particular reason. Just because. It isn’t like I have no work to do. Quite the opposite. I’m busier than that one-armed drummer for Def Leopard. I’m workin’ it like I care and shit.
It got me to thinking. My entire life has been all about LIVING. That is to say, I have always been completely immersed in what it means to be ALIVE. Which, I still believe, is the proper way to spend my time while here. I have good reason to have spent so much effort on the subject. I was born dead, saved by whatever modern medicine was available to the miracle workers in that Houston hospital of the 70’s. Which makes my time here an abomination of Darwinian principles. Which is totally cool by me. On top of that, I spent four years of my life, convinced that I would not survive to see my 21st birthday. Those who know me will probably remember my almost neurotic fixation on that. I still hold that my belief was well-founded in enough misfires and narrow escapes.
I have felt fortunate to be around ever since. My (mis)adventures, (mis)ventures, and efforts have always had a ‘fuck it’ sort of bend, and that I can attribute to my feelings about being allowed to live. My ‘gulp-it’ attitude toward experiences and my tendency to be a bit manic in my consumption.
All of that is fine and good for now, but is there a point where the tables turn? Is there a point where a rational person ceases to consider how they are going to LIVE, and feels compelled to turn their thoughts to how they are going to DIE? Not that I am anywhere near that point in my life. But the question did beg itself to me, as I sat outside in the brilliant noon-ish sunlight, puffing on my Parliament. Is there such a moment? Did my grandfather, one day just start questioning his daily activities NOT based on whether or not he was enjoying them, but rather whether or not those activities would kill him in the near future? Is there a point where a regular bungee jumper stops looking at their pastime as a means of fun, and instead as more of a risk for quick death? My knee-jerk is ‘yes, a rational mind would have to eventually ask itself such questions. After all, the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long (thank you Tyrell Corp.)’. And I really want to follow my knee-jerk on that one.
But then again, isn’t the overall consideration of one’s life in terms of potential death… pretty much spell out: ‘dead anyway’? I mean, to consider every act as a potential slippery slope toward ultimate dismissal seems so… lifeless.
Apologies for the repeated ellipses. I love them so.
So I turned my thoughts back to life. Tonight is me and my lady. After work is a Car Bombed happy hour with darts. This afternoon is this writing. Right now is this cigarette.
Right now is this cigarette. I’ll deal with death when it is in my face, fire-lit and smoking like a black-lung teepee.
Damn you Blade Runner!