A few years ago, whilst touring the Palestinian West Bank area around Jericho, I climbed the rocky cliff where Christ was tempted by Lucifer. The blistering heat of the Judean desert formed long, shimmering waves that danced through the air, creating the illusion of watery ghosts bobbing for a better look at me. I remember thinking it was understandable how Christ’s mind may have fallen victim of that hostile environment: the crushing heat, the sweeping but empty vista of eternal rock, the dust, the haze.
And I had eaten a croissant on the coach! Imagine 40 days without food. Surely the Devil would have appeared to me by tea time offering bread for rocks. Luckily the monks who lived on the very cliff face had set up a refreshment stand. Shaded under a beach umbrella I was able to crack open a cold Diet Coke and whisper, “Get behind me Satan.”
As of today, January 9, 2012, I do not smoke.
I choose my words carefully in order to coax my mind towards a mirage of my making. I have not quit smoking, no, instead I do not smoke. I am a non-smoker.
Again I choose my words purposefully. I like a battle. I respond to challenge. Therefore this road ahead, one that metaphorically rises through the Judean desert will be treated like the failing school; I will persevere and will not be beaten.
The nurse at the Smoking Cession Clinic I attend this morning offered me a range of strategies; patches, gum, a spray. I baulked at the mention of a pill which would make me feel vomit at the taste of a cigarette. I feel as the purge should be spiritual rather than physical. Such is the battle.
I opted for the spray; a minty mist with a familiar burn of nicotine. The mechanism on the pump was overly elaborate and I found myself frustrated in trying to administer the first surrogate dose. It was a moment to light a fag to relive the stress.
Dear readers, my heartfelt thanks to those of you who have shared your advice on the battle ahead. For the next two weeks I will remain armed with my small green spray pump. The nurse tells me each pump contains the nicotine equivalent of 150 fags. It reminds me of a personal security device. The first spray goes wildly wide of its target on my tongue and peppers the wall.
I am back on the cliff; the scene of The Temptation. Satan is lighting a fag. I hold out my pump and warn him. I am armed. And now that I can spray directly into my mouth instead of on the wall, I will use it.
Keep the Faith,