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It Is Time

All things in moderation. A pretty good slogan to live by; the only problem, determining what the correct level that qualifies as "moderate" is. Extremists tend to hate moderation, whether it is the political arena, sports fanaticism, consumption, or anything else. For example, people opposed to alcohol consumption generally refuse to acknowledge that a person who consumes one (and only one) alcoholic beverage per day lives a longer, healthier life. It is a stress reliever; and I am sorry to all the health nuts, physicians and medical journals who are trying to sell you something with their skewed statistics, but stress is the number one contributing factor of illness in the world, and the second leading cause of death (dying being number one, topping the charts at 100% of all deaths).

Skewed stats aside, I tend to do pretty well with moderation. I understand that the moderate quantity of hemlock is zero ("It's all natural, so you know its good for you." yea, right), while quantities of breathable air should be pretty high (too high is hyperventilating, which again becomes bad). The one thing I have a problem with is cigarette smoking. My name is Andrew Maxim and I am addicted to cigarettes, and yes I see the irony of following "breathable air" with "cigarettes".

Like most smokers, I really can not pin down the reason I first started smoking. Peer pressure, being young and stupid, the quick buzz that you get (up until the point that you are hooked). Who knows? I even retired from smoking a couple years back (retired as opposed to quitting, because no one likes a quitter), and could not tell you why I started back up a year later. What I can tell you is what I missed while I was in retirement.

There was a newspaper article I had read online some years back that discussed the social group of smokers, and the writer was dead on. I searched the Internet for the original article to share it, but unfortunately did not have any luck. So I will have to paraphrase. Basically, the article discussed how the group, collectively known as "smokers", was one of the only social groups worldwide that transcended all other biases, stereotypes, genders, races, religions, political affiliations, et al. It is one of the only groups you can walk up into, without knowing a single person, and have the feeling that you belong.

On my recent trip overseas, I spent four hours in the Miami airport smoking area chatting it up with two people I had nothing in common with besides smoking. Try that with another social group. It is also one of the most generous of social groups, in relations to the commonality that brings them together. Walk up to 10 people in a bar and ask them to give you a drink, unless they are attracted to you and hoping to score, you are not getting that drink. Walk up to a smoker and "bum a smoke", and you just made a friend.

That is what I missed when I had retired last time, and is what I will miss when I retire (quitters never win, and winners never quit) this time around. It is something I know I need to do, and something I know I am able to accomplish. Whoa onto the people around me for the first four days or so as I bring my cigarette smoking down to the moderate level of none, but it is time. Wish me (and those around me) luck.

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