As I’m writing this, I’m smoking a cigarette in the still of the night after most people have fallen asleep. I know it’s a bad habit, but it’s hard to break. I’m not supporting smoking by any means, but there’s this strange mental image I have of an artist sucking on a cigarette with plumes of smoke flowing about as the writer becomes immersed on some creative topic. Regardless of whether or not it helps my writing, there’s a high that comes from it.
As I’m smoking, I’m struggling to conjure up content for my writing. I want my next piece of writing to be as good as my last piece, if not better. I scour through books by Haruki Murakami and other authors to analyze their rhetorical style. I worry that I might not be able to create any more high quality content.
I put out the cigarette and lament over the fact that I have work the next day. I will wake up, brush my teeth, put on some business casual attire, and eat my breakfast of tomato and egg soup, which is what I eat every day for breakfast. I will walk to the same bus station I walk to every day to catch the 83 so that I can transfer to the line 3 metro. I will travel 8 stops, and I’ve ridden this route so many times that I can predict about how many people will enter the subway train at any given stop. After I arrive at the office, I will put my bag down on my chair, and then go to the coffee maker and get some coffee even though I don’t really drink coffee to kill some time before I actually have to start working. I turn on the computer, check the schedule for the day, and begin my work. After 9 hours a day, I go home. Rinse, repeat. This is my life.
I don’t hate my job, but I do the same fucking thing every day.
Sometimes I like to change up my routine by eating at different places for lunch. Maybe I’ll have a sandwich instead of noodles just to add some flavor to my life, I tell myself. That’s about as exciting as it gets. Back in the present moment, I pull out another cigarette. I know that it won’t feel as good as the first cigarette, but I light it anyways. There’s this scant hope that perhaps it might. Sadly but surely, I was right, just like I knew I would be. It doesn’t feel as good.
At work, I often think about the frivolity and carefree nature of youth. As I think about the frivolity of youth, I feel distressed by the fact that I am still in my 20’s but I absolutely do not feel young anymore. On the horizon are greater responsibilities while there are already stacks and stacks of papers to be filed, taxes to pay, and meetings to attend. Sometimes I stand at the copy machine wondering about how life devolved to this monotony where I no longer feel “true freedom”, whatever that means.
I start daydreaming and think about college. I think about how I could sleep in and not go to class if it was raining. I think about playing pick-up basketball whenever I felt like it. I think about the late night chats in dorm rooms, the constant camaraderie, and the general inconsequential nature of it all. The documents I sent to the printer are done printing and I am forced to return to reality. Back in the present moment, I light a third cigarette, knowing that this one will definitely feel nothing like the first, but I light it anyways. It serves no purpose other than to give false hope and to kill time.
Plumes of smoke have now enveloped me, making me smell like an ashtray. I didn’t plan on smoking three cigarettes, but there was an allure, a hope, a distant possibility that the third might have felt as good as the first. I knew logically that this was unlikely from experience, but I did it anyways. I know logically that “true freedom”, whatever that means, is over, but I think about it anyways.
I put out the third cigarette, regretting the fact that I smoked three cigarettes instead of the one cigarette I had originally planned. But such habits are hard to break. I tell myself to stop living in the past, but such habits are hard to break.