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I’m sitting cross-legged on a massage table facing the equally pretzel-limbed Pilates instructor/spiritual-ritualist/receptivity coach Emily Tepper. She’s about to set afire a small square of paper that I’m holding in my hand. It goes up in brief cough of a blaze, like some enchanted parchment off to another fiery dimension. On it was scrawled one of the things I wanted to remove from my consciousness, bad habits and energies that I’ve saddled myself with. We repeat this several more times, each Post-it sized resolution disappearing before my eyes, and supposedly, from my life.
We made a list of all the things I wanted to receive in life. I left off things like ponies, and superpowers, though those things would be rad. I was to visualize myself receiving all these accomplishments and maturations (I let myself imagine getting these things whist driving a 68 Camaro rocking some Bad Brains) and enjoying them – love, health, balance, respect for self, etc. I’m not a crystal-rubbing hemp wearer but I do believe in the power of the mind. “Your focus determines your reality” has run true in my experience many times.
EDIT: I just researched that quote (I couldn’t remember where I heard it) and it comes from fucking Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace. You are free to never read anything I write ever again. Can wisdom truly reside adjacent to Jar Jar Binks?
Armed with my visualizations and my crappy pop-culture quotes, I went about my Saturday resigned to jump the hurdles of quitting and to maintain the visualizations we explored as future history. I made a list of all the things I’ve identified as enemies in this battle. I’m calling them out.
1. Smoke Breaks: Callie Watts whom you know as the “Crafty Lady” at BUST, or as simply Callie Watts, because that’s her name, is one of the best human beings on the planet and my best friend. She and I take our smoke breaks together and it’s rare if there isn’t at least one belly laugh involved in the 7 or so minutes we have downstairs on 27th street three or four times a day. I LOVE these breaks in my day. I need it. Her Parliaments (like all cigarettes) smell horrible, but it’s a very sexy horrible that I want to put in my mouth. The NJOY helps tremendously here. Point NJOY.
2. Bars: Going outside for a cigarette while drinking with your friends serves so many purposes. Getting out of boring conversations, not having to shout in some girl’s (or dude – your choice) ear etc. is crucial. With the NJOY’s, you can just puff away all fancy Blade Runner-style right there at the bar and shout like a madman over the 40th playing of Daft Punk’s new single to hit your face this week. Shouting is rarely sexy and asking someone to come outside with you without the cigarette excuse is a little harder sell. Point for cancer sticks.
3. People you’ve tortured in the past: We all have those friends that have been looking for an opportunity to make your life difficult because it’s funny and you have done the same thing to them a thousand times. You deserve it and unless you’re a punk, you just deal with it. No points.
4. Booze: I wish smoking a cigarette was the worst decision one could make when you’re drunk and I think that’s part of the issue. You’ve already indulged every other stupid inclination, why not put some garnish on the evening? Keep the NJOY on you at all times. This will help.
5. Being bored: I don’t get bored often but when I do, I find I’ve used cigarettes to be a sufficient entertainment device. Luckily, NJOYs deliver pretty much the same thing so it’s all good. Point NJOY.
6. The Subway: I imagine the NYC Subway system company, the MTA, having board meetings to discuss my movements. In these meetings they plan all of their construction within my schedule to maximize the length of my ride and the intensity of my frustration. Maybe I should be flattered? Either way, pulling on an e-cig in the subway station is gratifying for the chemical reasons of course but more importantly, you get to see the looks on people’s faces while they try to come up with a reason to be horrified at you. Point NJOY.
7. Stress: Such a typical go-to for the embattled quitter. It’s a crutch. We know it. For some reason though, the logic just makes sense in your brain that once you finish this cigarette, that you will be zen as a chorus line of Dalai Lamas. Luckily, the fix you’re looking for can be easily had without the formaldehyde and tar. Big Point NJOY.
8. Drugs: Well, I mean. Don’t do drugs. If you already going to anyway, and let’s be honest, a lot of us likes us some drugs. They’re the harbinger of bad decisions and we all know that. It’s hard to keep any resolve when you’re blazed/tweaked out of your mind. I’m trying to quit smoking. Putting stupid sauce in my system isn’t going to help no matter what method I’m using. Point NODODY.
9. Significant others that smoke: Don’t break up with your boy/girlfriend or anything and don’t be that proselytizing dick that pontificates at any given point about your virtuous endeavor. That’s just annoying. This may be the hardest factor to manage on this list. I’d suggest politely asking that he/she not smoke around you or just suck it up and do the damn thing—like a boss.
10. Apathy: My biggest hurdle. I am fairly healthy, a little doughy in the middle but otherwise athletic. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that I’m not immortal (though I do plan to have bionic implants at some point—hurry up science!!) and one day I will notice I’ve lost a step. Doing things I enjoy, like breathing noxious fumes instead of the clean, beautiful Manhattan air, are hard to give up when you aren’t feeling the negative effects right NOW. Be in the future. Like rent, taxes, periods and Mondays, cancer is coming. Give your future self the present of not dying before science makes superlungs.
NEXT TIME: 10 Positive things you can do to quit and more off-topic shit.
Image via David Kenedy and Emily Tepper