Life Is Too Good Not To Breathe
Editor’s note: Peter Loggins is a legend within the swing dance community. He’s also an old friend and a source of inspiration. Aside from dancing, Peter used to be a competitive runner, skateboarder, and snowboarder, and is one hell of a tattoo artist. He is, in short, one of the baddest badasses you’ll ever meet. The confession below, which he originally posted on Facebook, wasn’t easy to read. But, I do believe his is a lesson that needs to be shared with the world, and that’s why I asked to republish it here.
To all my friends who smoke cigarettes,
I’ve been smoking on and off my whole life (much more on than off), although I quit about a year ago.
I could do anything smoking. Remember my running stories? I could compete skateboarding, snowboarding — you name it. Hike, hunt, run, and of course, dance my ass off all night long.
Not long ago, I was in a sweaty hot dance club. I went outside for just a short time in the very cold weather, and… BAM. Like so many of us would, I got sick.
In the past, I would just brush it off. But this time, it was some crazy sinus, fever, cough. I was down and out for the count. My fever eventually went down after about five days, and my sinuses eventually got better. But, my lungs and breathing? Not so good.
It’s a helpless feeling, not being able to simply walk down the street because you can’t breathe, and the slightest activity makes you hack for 10 minutes.
Three decades of smoking have made it impossible for my lungs to fight the infection. I’ve crippled my army for fighting off the enemy — an army I’ve really never needed before. Until now.
In the past, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. I’d just jump in bed, eat well, take comfort meds, and the enemy would retreat, maybe to fight another day.
But this time was serious. This time, it was an all-out war, so to say. And I felt helpless knowing I could have had a strong army. I could have been prepared. Instead, my lungs were in no shape to fight back.
I’m 46. So, I guess I could say I made pretty far, considering the beatdown my body has gone through over the years. But on the flip side, it’s pretty pathetic to have problems even breathing now.
I’m all for the “Live Fast, Die Young” way of life. But, you have to make that death a crazy-fast one. Go ahead, throw yourself off a cliff with a board strapped to your feet… or paddle out in surf that can easily drown you… or hit that speedometer at 200 mph. Just make sure your body can actually get through it all. Anarchy craziness doesn’t make sense when you’re lying in a bed, strapped to an oxygen tank.
I’ve interviewed countless musicians and dancers about their lives. They tell me their stories from a wheelchair, taking breaks to hit the oxygen. I’ve always taken what they said to heart… except for the one most important: Health. For the dancers, one of the saddest things to ever witness is a legendary dancer having to leave the dance floor mid-song, coughing and choking from years of smoking (Maxie Dorf ). Or the other legends I never got to see dance, because they couldn’t breathe anymore and just sat there next to their oxygen tank (Jimmy Valentine). Or the ladies, who’d tell me they could only dance part of the song because they chain smoked (Venna Archer). I could make a list a mile long….
How many have died because of complications of the lungs, infections turning into pneumonia? All because their lungs had been weakened by years and years of cigarettes. It’s so very sad.
I want to play music for the rest of my life… and hunt the hell out of my dogs… and be able to get up and dance when I see a smiling face. To jeopardize all that was beyond stupid. Words can’t express the stupidity.
It’s a helpless feeling, knowing that you’re on your way to being another statistic, and there’s nothing you can do. The damage has been done, and it comes back to haunt you.
Well, there was something I could have done many years ago: Quit.
And now, I only hope I can help others quit… but only those who want to quit. Because, unless they seriously want to, it’s pointless to try and help. You can only share stories… and hope they see the light… and be there if they reach out.
Life is too good not to breath….
Peter: Very well written…another reason for me to be proud of the way you have handled many aspects…frequently enjoyably uphill but not without its downhills… of your life. Single parenting you, your brother Paul, and of course also Christian was not without its challenges…but I would do it again.
Experience is something we gain just after we needed it. Warning labels just aren’t big enough on the carton sometimes. And in life. I want to tell you that I miss our friendship. I know that I had everything to do with us not being friends anymore. I’d like to blame it on youth but we were not that young. Selfish a**hole. Period. A career at sea gives a man lots of time for introspection. Time to go back and see the warning signs, albeit too late. I miss my old friend and I wish him well. I send you a sea of respect and a mountain of fresh air. I hope that you continue to teach. May you never stop dancing.
Fair winds and following seas