written towards the end of my first month of freedom from smoking and originally posted on december 13, 2001; in it, i make an analogy between a wolf howling at the moon and a man ranting at his addiction.

howlin’ at the moon

2009 January 14

sometimes i feel like i'm howlin' at the moon...

i used to see smoking as a bad habit. i wondered why my willpower wasn't strong enough to put an end to this habit. now i understand that it's really an addiction, and i'm giving it the respect that it deserves.

the moon doesn't care, it just goes on being the moon; my howling doesn't affect it one way or the other. it doesn't even seem to notice.

sometimes i feel like i'm howlin' at my addiction...

my addiction doesn't care, it just goes on being my addiction; my howling doesn't affect it one way or the other. it doesn't even seem to notice.

what's the difference? of course, the obvious one is that i didn't make the moon. it was here before i came, and it'll probably still be here long after i'm gone. my addiction, on the other hand, is entirely self-made; it didn't exist before i created it, and it will die when i do. (come to think of it, this is actually very much like my perception of the moon; from my perspective, the moon will cease to exist when i die because i won't be aware of it any more.)

what's the similarity? just like a wolf may howl at the moon with the dim, dog-like intention of making it move, and if it howls at it every night for a month it might actually notice that the moon's not in the same place in the sky any more, i may howl at my addiction. i may have every intention of moving my addiction, getting rid of it, disowning it. and if i continue to howl at it every day for a month (as i'm coming close to doing; i'm in my 27th day of being smoke-free), i may actually start to perceive movement.

but what the wolf doesn't realize is that the apparent movement of the moon is actually due more to the wolf's own location changing in relation to the moon, rather than vice versa. and, like the wolf, what i perceive is also an illusion. what i'm starting to realize is that the apparent movement of my addiction is more due to the way i'm changing in relation to it than the other way around.

i used to see smoking as a bad habit. i wondered why my willpower wasn't strong enough to put an end to this habit. now i understand that it's really an addiction, and i'm giving it the respect that it deserves.

i used to think that, once i'd refrained from smoking for a certain period of time (say, a month. or a year. whatever.) that the habit was broken and i no longer needed to think about it or prepare myself for its return. now i understand that this is no mere habit, to be put on or taken off like a suit of clothes; it's an addiction, and addictions don't go away.

now that i see my addiction for what it is, i understand that i, too, am subject to the laws of addiction. long ago, i accepted the fact that my brother could no longer drink alcohol; he was an alcoholic, and if he took that first drink, his addiction would come back in full force. that made sense to me; he was an addict, and if he fed his addiction, it would own him again. but i never saw myself as an addict, until now. now i'm starting to get it.

now i understand that i can howl at my addiction all i want; it won't be moved. like the moon, it will always be there. and, like the earth, my relationship with it and my perception of it will change from time to time, based on my distance from it or closeness to it. we will circle each other forever (or at least, 'til death do us part').

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3 responses leave one →
  1. 2008 March 23
    Bill permalink

    This is really clear and helpful!

    Thanks!

  2. 2009 January 14

    note: the comment above was left on the original tale at the date and time indicated.

  3. 2013 October 8
    Jim permalink

    I can really relate to this. The smoking habit seems to be this implacable enemy, and no matter how hard I yell and kick at it, it just refuses to budge. But maybe your right. Maybe its moving and I just can't tell. Or maybe I'm moving and it can't tell, LOL. :)

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