Monday, January 6, 2014

To My Smokin' Friends this New Year

Prison Cemetery, Huntsville, TX, Circa 1981
When taking this photo of my friend, Jeff, running by tombstones on a perfectly normal day, I was struck by the contrast.  The action of Jeff running by these static stones, non-moving, symbolizing only one thing about the human condition: We each always have the option to change, at least until we die.  

Contrary to what you see in this photo, it’s not about an old cemetery or tombstones, nor the fact that each one bore only a number.  No names.  This photo’s deeper than that.  

It’s about change, personal, individual change, change in ourselves and not in others, or even the world, because change can only happen one person at a time.  With that said, let me change the subject for one minute so you’ll understand what I mean.

We know from social-economics that being in jail, like being poor, reduces one’s average lifespan, thus turning each unchanging person into a statistic, for that individual would not or could not change to avoid this ending.  But if we have the power to change some things, like smoking cigarettes, why do we pick the path that would take us down being enumerized like the cadavers in this cemetery?  And becoming statistics.  

To be sure, sometimes we can’t change—such those who suffer from mental illness—but when we can, shouldn’t we?  Today, for example, we have far too many people who know that smoking cigarettes is unhealthy yet they persist to do so.  

What’s going on in these people’s heads to make them believe they are immune from becoming a statistic?  Is it that the value their place on their own lives are so low?  Is it that they already have a cancer of the soul and don’t see cigarettes as destroying what little lives they have left?

Maybe if my smoking friends would view their lives more as an every day compromise, the benefit being a higher quality of life, but only by taking the path of least destruction.  Maybe if my friends would know that I don’t want them to become statistics, numbers, and un-moving stones? 

I want my friends to last as long as possible.  I want many new happy years with each of you.  For that reason, I wish all my smokin’ friends a healthy 2014 y para los Hispanos out there, Happy Three Kings Day!

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