it’s all about choices

As human beings we make choices every day. Some are small and insignificant, like whether to have cereal for breakfast or a bagel. Some choices are bigger and more important, like which college to attend, and what career to pursue. Some choices, like choosing a life partner or whether or not to have children are life changing. I made a life changing choice at the tender age of twelve.

In order to impress a boy named Stuart Ritsenthaller, I chose to start smoking cigarettes. It is a choice I’ve had to live with for the past thirty-four years. Looking back, I don’t remember whether Stuart was even all that impressed. But I do know, after a bout of pneumonia sent me to the hospital for a chest x-ray early this summer, my doctor was not impressed at all. In fact she was downright alarmed.


I knew I had to end my love affair with nicotine, and the prospect scared the hell out of me. I’d heard about the cravings, the headaches, the irritability. Who needed it? So I started slow, using the taper down method. It worked pretty well. Within two weeks I’d cut my pack a day habit in half. The next few weeks were like trying to walk up a water slide backward. Some days I’d do really well, lighting up only five or six times in a day. Other days I’d backslide and smoke ten or twelve. The experience really brought out my inner brat. I became prone to emotional temper tantrums, unable to handle being told “No.” But at the same time another voice screams that I have books to write. Football games to go to. Gardens to plant. Like that Aerosmith song says, “I don’t want to miss a thing.”

It’s not easy to quit smoking. It’s not fun. But then, neither are the alternatives. With that thought in mind, a month ago I set a quit date of September third. That’s tomorrow. With the ‘big day’ now literally around the corner, I have to admit I’m scared to death. Scared of the cravings, the withdrawal, the irritability. Scared of failure.

 But failure would be a choice, too, and one I can’t afford to make. With a lot of prayer, and a little help from my friends, I’ll get by. One day, one craving, one choice at a time.


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