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Snapshot of a smoking room

A room full of people smoking and me sitting amid the fumes and the people; A view of myself as seen through the eyes of an interviewer, cigarette smoke billowing around me.

'Aren't you passive smoking?' Asked the interviewer's voice.

'Oh yes,' I laughed, 'I've been a passive smoker all my life.'

That's all I can remember.

It is true - my dad was a heavy smoker, and I lived in his house, breathed it in without any choice. It put me off cigarettes completely and to this day, I have never been a smoker. Nicotine makes me sick. And of course, it killed Dad.

I think this dream is about the toxicity of... well, everything... almost everything. Everything that is about the outer world of people. In the end, all that poisonous air, breathed in, breathed out, recycled, curdled ideas, rotted words... it can get into you. It can taint your whole life. I feel it everywhere, and once again, must retreat, to try to get this work finished. But even if this work wasn't an issue, I would have to retreat. My life is better when I do... though I feel as though I am somehow a lesser person for not engaging.

One of the things I hate about austerity as a concept is that it creates a kind of petty smallness, a shrinking of soul and mind, a drawing up of barriers: go no further, mine not yours, the thing I know, not the thing I must extend myself to learn. All that matters is controlling my tiny purse, my tiny mind, my tiny world. No great art or kindness ever came out of parsimony. It is a diminisher of people into numbers. I detest it.

Like sitting in a room full of smokers, me laughing and admitting I've been there all my life. Clearly I like the smokers' company or I wouldn't be there. But I wish the snapshot had shown me a door.



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