0113 – If I can become a smoker, I can build other habits, too

Alright this is the first word vomit I’m doing in quite a while. How long has it been? Feels like 2 or 3 weeks. I can’t check right now. I paused for a while to do summaries of my first 100 vomits- 10 vomits per summary, and I did 6 or 7 of those. Why the summaries? Well… I knew that I wanted to be able to get a quick glimpse or grasp of all 1000 vomits at the end, and reading through all of them from 0001 to 1000 sounds rather tedious, tiresome.

There’s an added side-benefit- when you do 100 vomits of 1000 words each, you’re going to forget what you had written in the earlier vomits. I kinda did, at least. Doing reviews and summaries allowed me to revisit my older thoughts and get a sense of the emerging bigger picture. Most importantly, they’ll keep me from repeating myself too much- I can congeal my earlier thoughts, revisit them if necessary… but I get ahead of myself.

I’ve been doing more reading, too. All of Paul Graham’s essays. I found this guy called Tom Albrighton- a freelance copywriter with a background in literature. Wonderful thinker, lucid mind. I’ve been reading a bit of Marc Andreessen’s old blog too- you actually gotta use the internet wayback machine to access that. I’ve been reading some Ribbonfarm, which I think has given me an appreciation for Big Infrastructure, Big Corporate, etc as ideas and concepts deserving of attention, study and reverence at the scale of nations and empires. The Gervais Principle has been something I’ve allowed to bounce around my head, but I’m starting to alrrady find it a little limiting. Not sure if it’s because I’m just misunderstanding it. But no matter, really. It has been useful to me. I might read some of the source material.

I also curated @hellofrmSG for a week. I volunteered to do it over a month or two ago because I was frustrated with one of the curators at the time and was convinced that I could do better. So that was what I spent my morning and evening commutes doing instead of writing. It was somewhat interesting. I think I learnt to be a bit more precise in my claims. Made a few new acquaintances, identified a few new people I want to follow on Twitter. But I think I’m going to be laying low on Twitter for a while. Interestingly I don’t quite have the same energy for social media that I used to.

Which brings me to cigarettes. I have been on a path away cigarettes ever since I started work, but I had relapsed a few times- then I was smoking only before and after work, then I was buying a pack maybe on the weekends, then I stopped buying packs altogether- and I had this really nice run of almost 2 months I think where I was 99% off cigarettes- bummed one from a friend at poker, 2 or 3 from a friend at a party of sorts- and kinda regretted it both times. My body started getting quite used to being smoke-free, and it felt good. Breathing deeply, seeing brightly, skin supple not dry, mouth clean and fresh.

Then 2 days ago I bought a pack- I really just wanted one cigarette- and I knew I shouldn’t smoke but I felt like doing something naughty anyway- but I hate bumming from people I don’t know. So I bought a pack.

It was a slog! I didn’t really enjoy it anymore. I finished it anyway, because I’m silly like that, but I don’t plan on buying another. I don’t even feel like I might want to. I’m too conscious now of the damage that cigarettes do to my teeth, nose, lips, gums. I stepped outside my bedroom to go to the toilet and my living room just stank of stale smoke, it was horrible. I hate it. I’m aware now of the clear distinction between a smoker’s life and a non-smoker’s, and the former is really nothing to aspire or look forward to. A smoke-free life is brighter, clearer, fresher, calmer, smoother (once you get past the initial shocks).

Now here’s what really gets me about all this- very little of any of this has to do with conscious choice. There was no magical point where I decided to stop and stop forever. It feels more like a renewing loop, where I sorta test this idea and it works, and then I do the opposite and it fails, then I try it again… turns out I’m actually quite a slow learner in some respects.

I’m so fixated on this partially because of my health, but also because I think there are clear correlations in habit formation and cessation… by which I mean to say every person is obviously unique and different in terms of how we’re wired, but our unique wiring seems to be somewhat internally consistent… no I don’t need to make such an unnecessary claim. All I’m saying is- I’ve made progress in quitting Facebook and quitting cigarettes. In both cases I relapsed several times, but the overall graph of my usage over time has been diminishing and that counts for something. The question is how do I apply this to other parts of my life?

If I can become a smoker, and I can become a Facebook addict, then I can also become a hyper-productive person, I can also be fit, I can also learn to be less socially abrasive. The challenge is to slog through it. I don’t know the details of the struggle, or the nature of it. But I am progressively, increasingly confident that I CAN be more than this (used to think I couldn’t), and they I WANT to be (used to be convinced that it “wasn’t the life for me”). So I believe I can, and I believe I want to. I need to next figure out how. I think that’ll involve environmental, situational changes and careful, regular evaluation of my mental state. I started to see that cigarettes were screwing up my health (I’m coughing and sniffling as I write this, ugh), that facebook made me petty and jealous, and both of them made me edgy and anxious.

I won’t change overnight, and there will be relapses, but I’m sticking to this. Ok I’m at work.

2 thoughts on “0113 – If I can become a smoker, I can build other habits, too

  1. Shankari

    hey visakan, stumbled upon your blog – delicious insight in your beautiful writing. Wishing you all the best in quitting smoking – vanity has always been my best motivation too to cope with my vices. Never give up – your cheer team of which I’m sure your mum is captain of is always rooting for you. Wishing you all the best little cuz

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