When you start to soften your steps that are full of experience, you often walk without leaving any evidence of the things you once practiced in your life. And as you pull away from the past to the present, you look back in a clear and concise way at the bigger picture that you feel is being better lived by you today.
I was absorbed by the influence of what I thought seemed cool when looking at others who walked the same earth as me, smoking cigarettes. I have seen family members do it and when they did it before me, I did not like it so much. They lit their cigarettes and it lit a fuse in me because of the crazy scent that filled up the house. I never took their addictions with delight. I never accepted the idea with open arms.
But then when in high school, I had this new urgency. My innocent eyes saw it as a whisper of romance and I wanted to be a part of that glamorous life. My parents would tell me to keep my head above the crowds. They’d tell me not to play the same song that everyone else was playing and don’t allow their harmonious music to change the way I do things. But there I was, moving with velocity, trying to be just like them and sifting farther from the calm person I was, deeper into the jungle and off the radars. At first, I tried out one. Then it became a few every now and then. Then a pack. Then a pack a half a day.
I remember those days clearly. Those were the days when I wouldn’t face the daylight without being surrounded by a haze of cigarette smoke. The morning lark would never sing me a sweet tune without me interrupting his aria by pulling out a morning smoke. Smoking liberated my mind. Without one I would be as ornery as I could be. I was like a coffeeaholic without their morning brew. No one can explain his philosophy except knowing that the cigarette or morning cup of joe is the drug that keeps them lifted on high and they need it.
I tried to quit. One time, a really good friend of mine would mark my pack and we would try to limit the habit that we both shared down to one cigarette a day. I would always stumble because someone who smokes a stogie every half hour might not have it that easy to just simply quit. I had been under construction for a while trying to take into confidence the fact that I could push away from smoking anytime that I wanted to. I was meant to just concentrate on doing it and that would be the beginning of the end of my unsolicited affection for cigarettes.
Imagine going out and bumming a cigarette. You ask and you are given one because it is a need. You run into the store and you’d purchase one for a quarter. You’d limp through the halls every half hour to take a few more drags just to get through the slow upward crawl of the day.
Then it happened. My $2.25 pack of cigarettes that I would purchase every single day of the week for the many years I had been doing it, went up to $2.50. The loose ones also went up to 50 cents. I contemplated the situation for a while. My mind was always teeming with the thought that I want a smoke but didn’t need one. I felt at that point like one of those cartoons with an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other quarreling their communicative powers from different angles. Then one night under the wandering moon, I simply put my pack of cigarettes down and never went back to smoking.
Once that happened, the scent of smoke that I used to enjoy so much were no longer sweet breezes blowing through my window. My calloused hands from the many times my fingers would get burned from the match that I struck to light up, now had this cool calm with a sober spirit. Who knew I’d go from trying situations of not smoking to never doing it again? And then I take a step back and wonder how I used to love something so much at one point that now made me feel dizzy from the pungent aroma? My closet full of fancy dresses no longer had the lingering scent of cigarette smoke on them. And though it took a really long time to get over my addiction, I am happy to be having this unique beautiful outlook on life that was not there back then when the only thing I had was a secret determination for the next stogie. Those were the days when my nerves had the better of me. Now I walk with greater confidence in me and I am happy.
Here I am handcuffed to my history and using the day’s courage to talk about it. No need to go perusing the book shelves for ways to quit smoking. No need to pick the brain of those who do smoke and are unwilling to listen and not yet ready to take control of their situation. Everything you want to say on the issue might be a well-received message for some and for others may be a bother. No need to angrily blast someone on the side of their pugnacious jaw, demanding them to stop. They might simply leave stomping their feet, weeping on the street because of the chastisement. My situation begged for my patience from within and so, I caved.
Somebody once told me that God takes care of all detours. Thank God he did because my singing voice seemed more important. How could I sing and keep up a healthy voice, he'd tell me? How could I carry on as a sophisticated and classy woman with my hair and body smelling like smoke and with my caricature having a cigarette in my hand, he'd say? And for the parts of my vocal cords that smoking has affected, thank God for what I have left. And so, I anchor my cause to the earth to say, when you are ready, you can do it without the drugs, doctors or anything else. Every man has his own will power for the things that they want out of life. Use it and smile sheepishly at what you are capable of doing. For I have learned that life is no wreath of flowers, but if you water the soil with as much faith and knowledge as needed to grow, one day you might rise out of the soil with wings to fly. When you are ready, use those wings to quit cold turkey. All it takes is you, your desire to change and your strong will to make that change happen.