I joined this group 1583 days ago, July 16, 2013. I don't remember how long I quit for that time, but it probably wasn't too long. This is my first post in a long time because I am sitting here the evening of Day 2 and I want to smoke, but I also want to get through this and not smoke. How can anyone who has never smoked understand this addiction? I'm like Mark Twain - it's so easy to quit, I've done it hundreds of times. The one thing I know for sure is that once you are addicted to nicotine, your brain, well, mine anyway, will never entirely set you free. My brain, I know, will always try now and then to convince me that a smoke is a good idea.
My greatest success was quitting in July, 2000, and I stayed quit. I did! Right up until May, 2010 - pretty much 10 years. How ridiculously ironic is this little anecdote? My brain decided in May, 2010 that on this particular momentous occasion, a cigarette was a fine idea - Hey! Gimme one of those! Want to know where I was? I was in Tanzania at the bottom of Mt Kilimanjaro, having just finished the descent of a successful climb to the summit. WTF! Other smokers were on that trip, people who didn't make it to the top. I did. I hadn't smoked for 10 years, I was 52 years old, and my guide kept saying, Polay, polay! Like a chameleon..." (Slowly, slowly, like a chameleon), and was driving me batshit crazy. "C'mon! Let's go!" "You are strong," he would say, "I know you are strong, but polay, polay, the altitude..." "**** that. Let's go." Yes, I could feel the effects of the altitude, but I also knew the symptoms of altitude sickness, and I knew I was fine. I made it. No problem. Never even had a headache. The final ascent was gasping for air in the freezing rain and howling wind, the pitch black, placing the next foot one at a time in a little point of light going up another step, and stopping, and another step, and pause again, and look where to place your foot next in a point of light, all while your lungs screamed for air. The wind lashing with snow and rain, wind, but no air, as we stopped to rest at Gilman's Point. Gilman's Point, the last leg to the summit at Uhuru. Here, at Gilman's Point, so so ironically, so sardonically, all the guides were simply sitting on the rocks and peacefully smoking, while the hikers sucked hard to get enough oxygen. The final push to the summit and I got there just after sunrise. Full sun on Mawenzi, pause for a photo, celebrate and then start back down.
We took a dangerous route down, sliding through scree for many hundreds of meters, but finally made it back to Horombo, able quite nicely to breathe again, and then next day back at the bottom. I had done Kili. I had made it to the summit. We were partying at the bottom. Lots of people - other hikers, guides, porters, cooks, all having beers, laughing and talking, and my brain told me now was a good time, now was a good time, a damn fine time for a smoke. So ******* insidious. And so, for the last 7 years and 6 months, I have been smoking off and on, mostly on.
And today is Day 2, almost time to go to bed, and maybe I'm going to make it past this the worst of all my mountains. And I have never written that Kili story before, but I have told it many many times over beers and smokes in the last 7 and a half years. Which mountain means more? I need to decide. Cigarettes. For me, the reason why this addiction is so demonic is because they are everywhere, and it is so easy to justify. ******* cigarettes. One thing I need to remember is that every time I buy a pack, I am putting more money into the coffers of Marlboro, a giant global corporation whose product is specifically intended to poison and kill me slowly while I pay them for it. That's ******. I think, maybe I will smoke tomorrow. But not tonight. I hope I can make it. A few more hours. **** you, Day 2. **** you, Marlboro. Think I'll plan on going swimming tomorrow.