I have a confession.

I am a smoker.

Well, not anymore.  I have a gorgeous little baby boy, and quit within a few weeks of finding out I was pregnant.  (Yes, I took a few weeks to truly wean myself off – and he’s FINE).   But I was a pack a day Marlboro Ultra Light smoker from the age of 20 to the very recent age of 35.   I use “AM” a smoker because I feel that with smoking, much like the drinky drink, once you ARE…you ARE.  I know if I pick up and light a ciggy, I’m back in business. It is a deep addiction of epic proportions, and I am so incredibly proud of myself for stopping.  I do not kid myself, however.  It could change in the blink of an ash in the eye.

So, last night I had what can only be described as the nic fit equivalent of a wet dream.  I dreamed I was smoking.  It was glorious.  I could’ve stayed there forever, and woke up in the most pleasant of moods, relaxed and focused, as if I just took the best smoke break of my life.   I suppose you could argue that I did.

It got me to thinking, smokers really have some things about life figured out.  Don’t get me wrong…WE KNOW…it smells, it can cause cancer and heart disease, it reduces lung function at best, at worst it cuts life expectancy and quality down.   I do not smoke now because I would HATE for my son to pick up such a habit.   But seriously…you  (YES YOU SHAKING YOUR HEAD AND HOVERING OVER THE LETTERS “EMPHYSEMA” ON YOUR KEYBOARD) can learn a few things from a smoker.  And here are five:

1. Take your break.

NOBODY takes their breaks at work.  Unless you have a pack of cigs in your desk drawer or purse, you DON’T step away and get outside!!! WHY?!  Why do you do that?  You get a break, you know.  You, too, can go see what the weather is like, and discuss the latest love life gossip of the receptionist on floor three!  Do it!

2.  Embrace your mortality.

I remember puffing on a smoke once and having a couple come up to me and say “You know that will kill you, right?”.   And they sped off in their car without a seatbelt on and a quick stop at McDonald’s drive-thru for dinner.  If there is one thing smokers do not take lightly (believe it or not) it is mortality.  We KNOW we are going to die.  So are you.  But unlike you, we don’t go telling people the obvious.  We don’t want to die soon, and we don’t want to die ugly – just like everyone else – but we can admit that our vices may or may not bring us to a certain end, and that we intend to enjoy the minutes we do have while here.  Preferably not being told “You’re gonna die” every time we go outside to feel the breeze (again, refer to #1).

3.  A little rain never hurt anyone.

Or wind, or sun, or torrential downpours, or hail…well, hail hurts.  I used to joke with my best friend when we would go outside for a smoke (again, refer to #1) that a smoker can handle any climate.  We will brave the harshest of conditions to light a cigarette.  And by the way, lighting anything in wind whipped up from the March desert, or rain pelting down in the middle of our nation’s capitol, or sideways snow on New England’s coast, is one HELLUVA challenge.  Once mastered, well, let’s just say we’re the one you want on your Zombie Apocalypse team.

4.  There is always room for improvement.

I will bet you good money if you go up to the door of any office complex (again, refer to #1), and ask people on their smoke break, they will tell you they are trying to quit.  Smokers understand constant self improvement.  They look for various ways to quit.  They try.  Sometimes (as I did until pregnancy) they just accept that they love it and will follow along with the unneccessary banishment to far off corners of the universe – to ten minute hikes away from the hospital for my boyfriend when he slept by my side the week I was in after my C-section- to bizarre hidden alleyways outside of sporting venues where you miss the game you spent hundreds of dollars on but you sure do meet some cool people – to keep on a path of most resistance.  “Smokers don’t quit”…wink wink.

5.  You don’t want none of this, Dewey.

The craving.  The absolute maddening craving.  It is known only to those who start smoking.  There is something about smoking that teaches you that other drugs just might have such a sickening grip.  Once you understand addiction, you can at least make the attempt to steer clear of selling your TV and stealing your Mom’s car to get your fix.   Cigarettes are legal (at 18) and expensive ($10.00 a pack in many places now), and you – you non smoker that do not know the grips of the nicotine insanity – can learn from us that once you start, you cannot stop.  It doesn’t take that long.  A month, maybe two of a cigarette while you have a beer, or with friends, and it will turn into a “thing”.  If there is anything you can take from a smoker (and we ALL say this) it is do not EVER start.  We mean it.  We all wish we never did.

Before the anti smoker sentiment boils over and the American Cancer Society blocks me, know this;  I am coming to you as a former smoker, and saying my past fifteen years were hardly for not.  I learned some very important life lessons while singeing my cilia, that I share with you fine people.   There is nothing wrong with trying to find the pearl in that oyster shaped ashtray.    So with that out there, I need a break.   Gonna step outside…with my son of course, and go for a stroller walk.  Please, again, refer to #1.