Pulling Myself Together

I?d like to have a cigarette tonight. Just one. Ten minutes of
satisfaction, of letting my guard down, of doing whatever the heck
I want to do at any particular moment. A cigarette tonight, a beer
right now, and maybe I won?t go jogging tomorrow. Shouldn?t be that
big a crisis, right?

Except I quit smoking a month ago. For the second time in a
year. And I really don?t feel like quitting smoking all
over again tomorrow.

And if I have a beer right now, it might help me have more fun
while I write this, but it also might make me feel tired in an hour
or so, and, at any rate, it will definitely make the beers I have
at the barbecue tonight seem a bit less special.

And if I don?t go jogging tomorrow, I?ll probably skip out the
next day, and once my guard is down I?ll probably go back to eating
nothing but cheeseburgers and pizza.

In just a few weeks I?ll be a regular smoker again, I?ll eat
nothing but crap, and I?ll play a whole lot of video games. Because
deep down, that?s all I really want to do. Oh, sure, I?d like to
have a higher-paying job and rippling abdominal muscles. I?d like
to write big-time Hollywood screenplays and cast myself as the lead
actor, too.

Just not right now. Heck, I don?t even feel like writing this
stuff right now.

The trouble is, when I?m sitting on the patio at my girlfriend?s
place in a few hours, I?m going to want to have written a first
draft of this piece. A couple of weeks from now, if it?s actually
hot enough to swim, I?m going to wish that I?d been jogging every
day. And if I let myself become a regular smoker again, I won?t
really enjoy any of the cigarettes I smoke. Very soon after that,
I?ll start feeling miserable.

Because doing what I want to do makes me miserable. But not
doing the things I want to do takes so much effort.

Oh, sure, it gets easier after I?ve stuck with a regime for a
while, but it never quite becomes effortless. If it did, I?d never
quit the regime. But I do quit. Constantly.

A new attempt at living a ?healthier, fuller? life usually
starts after a fit of depression. I?ll feel run down for a few
weeks, I?ll start sleeping later and later, I?ll get less and less
exercise, and I?ll start to feel hopelessly trapped for no real
reason. I?ll start to hate work, I won?t care if my house is
filthy, and I?ll fantasize that the only way out is to drive west
and never look back.

But I carry on until finally, one day, I?ll start to cry a
little bit for no reason, and I won?t really be able to move. I
really, really hate feeling like that, so I slap myself around and
go through the pained efforts of starting up all over.

After a few weeks of staying the course, I won?t have to think
about it so much anymore. And I?ll probably start to get all proud
and feel really good about myself.

And after I feel really happy, secure in my ability to stick to
a regime, stoked about all the progress I?ve made, and after not
smoking for eight months, I?ll be out on the town one night and
say, ?Why not??

It?ll take me a few months after that before I really remember
why not.

But that?s just how it is.

Reprinted from the premier issue of Two Note Solo
(Fall 2002). A free magazine distributed quarterly in Austin,
Two Note Solo strikes an irreverent and carefree
tone on issues as diverse as slackers, taxes, and pierogies.
Subscriptions: $10/yr. (4 issues) from
Two Note Solo, 909 C West 21st St., Austin, TX

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