Article Overview:   Terrorism comes in many forms, including your ability to breathe.   What happens when you have trouble breathing?   Does the world shrink or expand?


Friday--August 29, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 716
Gasping Breaths Of Terror
 Seek Oxygen of Vigilance

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Aug. 29, 2003-- Today I face the Beast of Lung Terror.  I'm taking a test to tell me how much damage smoking has caused my lungs over the past four decades.

The Beast of Health Terror has ravaged my body for too many years

      I'm a little nervous, as might be the man who is on death row who goes to inspect the execution room a few months before his time is called.
       People who abuse their bodies as I do with smoke don't want to know what they're doing to themselves.    It's a crime but true.  Self-abuse is the worst part of it all, for the abuser is the self against the self.
       Bad habits are that way.   Persons who eat too much, excessively, clogs their veins with fats and balloons their bodies.  They may detest smoke and smokers, but they slam the food fistful after fistful into their mouths, as ravenously as we smokers suck on the tobacco-filled cylinders of death.
      Smoking, I noted the other day on a report, is the primary cause of preventable deaths in New York City.   It is much the same in other parts of the United States.
     But I would think overeating is too.   

Results may dictate I have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

      Then there're the drinkers.    The people who guzzle down their beer and booze and end up on the sick rolls, clogging up the health systems.   How do they fair against us smokers?
      I'm trying to cast off the spotlight.
      Smokers try to disguise their bad habits by pointing to other's bad habits.    Fat people who drink but don't smoke?  Do they equal one smoker?
      I find it troublesome that part of me wants to fight for my right to smoke, as though sucking the fumes of the Beast of Health Terror was some privilege.    It isn't.   I'm a smoke addict.   That is, there's not a single day that goes by where I don't want to quit, beg to quit, but don't.
       I also never defend smoking to anyone.    I do not champion anything about it, but still I smoke.

I don't champion smoking in front of my grandkids

       For the past 24 hours, however, I haven't smoked.   
       The respiratory test I am going to take this morning will gauge the damage thus far to my lungs.  It will record officially my stupidity and my bullheadedness.
       I will no longer be able to duck the facts and figures that prove I am cutting my life down.    I will be able to see in clear data how I am going to gasp and choke and die what some call the "black death," when you can't breathe and your body turns ashen from lack of oxygen.

Will the Beast of Health Terror attack me again?

       We all die, but some of us more nobly than others.
       Abusers such as myself tend to suffer, reminders to society that human weakness often prevails over human character.
       The big question is whether I will pick up a cigarette right after the test and start killing myself a little more with each puff.
       Will I be stupid stupid?
       Looking the Beast of Health Terror in the eye is one thing, but learning from it is another.
       If we were all smart, we would never make the same mistake twice.   But, I fear, the majority of us all tend to fall into ruts of Complacency.  We tend to do the same thing over and over, expecting different results.  They call this insanity in some camps.
       I call it Complacency.
       To me, it's about my laziness to change.  Change is tough.   It means I have to want something so bad I am willing to give up the "easy life" to get it.  Bad habits are the "easy life."   It takes no effort to enjoy bad habits.
       Take thinking about ourselves for example.   If we look upon ourselves in a negative way--victimize ourselves as losers, failures, washed up seaweed of life, God's fodder--it's pretty hard if not impossible to change that way of thinking.
       We get used to picking on ourselves:  "We're too fat.  We're too thin.  Too old.  Not rich enough.  Not smart enough.   Not young enough.   Not lucky enough.  If only....  I should've.... I wished I hadda...."
        Bad habits sink our ships.
        The Beast of Thought Terror torpedoes us constantly, whether we smoke or don't smoke, overeat or not.
         Thus, not all addictions are of the physical nature.
         So, today I will face the Beast of Lung Terror.   And, after the event, I will face the next Beast....the Beast of Change.     

Will I take the high hard road or surrender to the easier, softer way?

        Will I be willing to change my entire life?   Will I want to take the high hard road rather than surrender to the easier, softer way?
         Bad habits are so seductive.   You just tell yourself you can change them any time.  You put down your Sword and Shield of Vigilance and assume the Beast of Terror sleeps while you play.   You forget the Beast's primary mission in life is to hunt you down and capture you, and then torture you slowly the rest of your life as you dash in and out of his gaping, taloned, scaly arms.
          I've quit smoking so many times my calculator's batteries are dead counting them.   And, dieting, well.    And, changing my life so I don't feel like a loser, a failure, a man who has wasted great talents doing nothing....ah...such bitter roots.

I plant the seeds of my own discontent

         All my problems are of my own making.   I plant the seeds of my own discontent, as we all do.
         Today, I get to see the results of one such seed.
         I'm a little nervous.
         I've had men die in my arms, gasping and choking.   They caught bullets and shrapnel that I luckily escaped, and couldn't breathe as the blood filled their lungs.
         I can never forget their faces, looking at me with a wildness, a deep perplexing sadness that I was alive and they were about to die.    We had been standing next to one another and they caught the shards of death and I didn't.    
         Bad, bad luck.
         So, my reward was to fill my lungs with my own booby traps.   To kill myself slowly.
         I am hoping and praying the Beast of Health Terror is driven off by my Sentinels of Health Vigilance this time.
         I'm tried of fighting the battle of Complacency.  I'm tired of killing myself.
         But, I know it will take Courage, Conviction and Right Actions to sustain myself without smoking.   Good habits take effort.

The Principles of Vigilance will help me fight the Beast

        I'm going to call upon the Sentinels of Vigilance to help me.
         If you're stuck in some health problem due to your own mismanagement of your health life, you can escape it.  
        You can fight back.
        Take the Pledge of Vigilance.
        Let Courage replace Fear, Conviction overpower Intimidation and Right Actions for future generations trump Complacency.
        I'm going to give it a chance.
        Wish me luck.  No, wish me Vigilance!


Aug 28--56 Buckets of Blood Spilled In Iraq

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