The Cigarette as a Distraction From Pain

Sunburn happens only to others.

How would we achieve the feeling of adulthood? How would we taste the lifestyle of being an adult? We would imitate the adults in our lives, only the cool adults, these adults that we looked up to. The adults drank beer, we wanted to drink beer and we did it when they weren’t looking. The first taste of beer was not so great, only the alcohol made it divine. No one remembers the utter feeling of Nirvana when they drew their first breath of smoke, because inhaling smoke is not the body’s idea of a good time or relaxation, there is no nirvana in inhaling pure carbon. The child observes that the adults seem to enjoy smoking. The child tries desperately to enjoy smoking and we can clearly see that with effort, even the agony of inhaling carbon can be overcome with the power of imagination. We just need to walk out the door and observe the nearest smoker. We condition our brains over time to associate smoking with calm and relaxation, and with a lot of effort we, just like the cool adults, can feel calm and relaxed when smoking. When we smoke a cigarette we get a feeling of relief and relaxation. In truth, the relief and relaxation we experience are relief and relaxation from calming the addicted monkey, it comes from relieving the withdrawal symptoms. We are calming the urge for the fix. We are not addressing the core issues that cause us undue stress in our lives. We are only managing the symptom that is smoking cigarettes with smoking more cigarettes. Smoking is not the core issue, it is just a symptom of something deeper, pain. The tobacco companies could not laugh any harder at our misery lest they die from laughter.

The cigarette smoking habit becomes a micro-cosmos in its own right. It gives us a feeling of control. The illusion of control has been the fall of many empires and many more men. We are to intellectually think of control as in illusion, although the challenge lies in realizing the fact and living it. A simple exercise to prove that control is an illusion is trying to control the bladder for an extended amount of time, we can hold it for so long before things happen naturally or something naturally snaps under pressure. Another example is trying to hold the breath, control is an illusion. We can choose when and where we want to smoke to a certain extent; we can choose when and where to stop feeling painful emotions for a while. We can have the illusion of control over our emotions with the cigarette. We treat emotions as something alien, out of our control, we treat them as something bad and we want to control them. When we hurt ourselves, such as a sun burn, the pain signals are very important for the healing process, the pain signals capture our attention and motivate us to avoid further exposure to the sun in order for the healing process to finish as quickly as possible, to stop the death process. So with burned skin we are extra careful with activities that might lead to exposure of our skin to the sun. And in the future we will be more vigilant about applying sunscreen. Pain has served its purpose and has proven very useful to us, even necessary. How else would we know we’ve had too much sun if it didn’t hurt? We can’t demand the conscious mind to monitor sun exposure, it is unreliable in this respect because it is easily distracted. What was that noise?

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