I used to smoke for 20 years or so until I quit primarily because of breathing-problems that I had while on the job. (Many people start smoking in the restaurant industry, by the way, as that’s one of the very few possibilities to get a break. Non-smokers are not that lucky.)
Smoking is a way of dreaming. This is independent from any hallucinogenic substances that might be involved. The simple act of smoking, be it alone or with others, has this potential or benefit. We smoke to retreat for a few moments from Commander Power-Ego’s tyranny. We look inwards, take a break, get wide, while the world spins at its usual pace. Smoking is bad for the body but good for the soul, they say. I’d add it’s good for the world too.
I loved the retreats, the dreaming, the gazing, the short moments of away-ness. It’s like listening but only with the eyes, like squinting, but with the vision turned inside, not outside. It made a space inside me, where I could go and meet whoever was there — thoughts, demons, wishes, fantasies, boredom, anxiety. And being without smoke for eight years now, I can truly see the differences. It’s not that you may add weight when you quit, the most decisive change comes with your drifting to the surface of your person, loosening and eventually losing the connection to the deeper realms, and then the realms themselves. Until they become a faint memory as you simultaneously start keeping alert on the surface.
The problem with former smokers is their intolerance towards smokers. They cannot stand a smoker besides them. They turn berserk. And there is a good reason for that. Because they know what they are missing. Interestingly, in my country the intolerance has turned out to become a witch-hunt, a crusade of prohibition, all in the name of health. Well, it’s not about health, it’s about productivity, effectiveness, capacity.
Smokers take a break from a madddening crowd by retreating to, by diving into the inner worlds. Not that they would see much there, but it’s simply this being away that keeps them healthy. On the other side you have the non-smokers who constantly keep the pressure up, can’t relax, don’t retreat, and only let go with the help of exhaustion. Their combination of hard work, constant alertness, coffee or tea, keeps them permanently in a conscious and rational mood. The effect of this is — they tend to be flat persons. Shallow, without depth, without ability to contemplate or gaze at something like the reflection of sunlight sparkling on the river’s surface. They can’t do that because they have never cultivated to do so. Rather then appreciating something, they do sports. They run amok with their ego. On behalf of their ego.
We know that a certain attitude towards the planet does more harm than good: the thing has no sense, no value in itself, but only what we impart on it., what we make from it, out of it. Using things or stuff according to our personal wishes instead of their owns, results in a devastation of landscapes, people, cultures. But the same attitude, turned towards our souls, is expected to do good, be healthy. Concerning the soul we don’t ask what the sense of its stuff may be in their own right, we try to impart our sense on them, our goals, our ends. We want to get rid of them, we want to use them. That makes us dumb. And cruel.
Smokers use their cigarettes as a short moment of trance. In former times, when we were still allowed to smoke in the pub, people joined to dream together, to look into the wide, while the talking, the smoke, the beer and wine all contributed to fuse them with their buddies, so that they could get rid of Commander Power-Ego, relax, dream, inhale, and restore the health of their souls with the help of their bodies. Today we see no dreaming anymore, we see violent binge drinking, hysteria, aggression, as the people can’t shake off their ego while meeting in the pub. The world turned desperate in the name of health.
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