written during my second month of freedom from smoking and originally posted on january 10, 2002, this tale talks about how we generally find exactly what we expect to find, and hints at the dangers of putting old wine in a new bottle.

cause and effect

2009 January 26

an old man was sitting by the side of the road on a hill overlooking a small town when a younger man approached him and said "hey, old man, what kind of people live in that town down there?"

at its root, smoking is a self-destructive behavior, and anyone who engages in self-destructive behavior obviously has some issues to deal with...

the old man asked, "what kind of people lived in the town you came from?"

"oh, they were a nasty bunch there; never a good thing to say about anybody, rob you blind if you weren't looking and stab you in the back just as soon as look at you; god, i hated it there!"

"well, young fellow, i'm afraid you'll find the people in that town down there are pretty much the same; you probably won't like it much there, either."

a little later, another young man came down the road, and stopped to ask the old man, "what kind of people will i find in that town down there, grandfather?"

again, the old man asked, "what kind of people did you find in the town you came from?"

"oh, the people there were great! friendly, smiling all the time, always had a good word for you, and they'd give you the shirts off their backs; i loved it there!"

"well, isn't this your lucky day, then? the people in that town down there are exactly the same way! i'm sure you'll like it there."


how could the old man give such radically different reviews of the same town? he didn't, really; in fact, the old man wasn't even from that town. he'd never even been there, much less ever met anybody from there. but the old man knew human nature; he understood that our attitude colors our perceptions, that we find pretty much what we expect to find - whether that's good or bad - wherever we go.

how do you like it where you live right now? and what are you expecting to find where you're going?

i used to live in a place called "kevin-is-a-smoker". i didn't like it very much there, so i decided to move to a new place called "kevin-doesn't-smoke-any-more". for a while, the strangeness of my new home was pretty disorienting; it just didn't feel right. but eventually i started getting used to it. it started to feel like "home" to me.

funny thing, though: back when i used to live in the old place, one of the things that made me want to move was the fact that i didn't like who i was living with very much. now that i'm more or less settled in to the new place, i'm starting to realize that there are still things i don't like very much about who i'm living with.

maybe i thought that, once i moved out of the old place, i'd leave the old thoughts and attitudes behind, too. maybe i thought that, if i didn't actually pack them up in boxes and put them on the truck, they'd be left behind for the next tenant to deal with. but that's not what happened. they followed me here.

i guess i should've realized that, at its root, smoking is a self-destructive behavior, and that anyone who engages in a self-destructive behavior obviously has some issues to deal with. i should've realized that, just because i stopped indulging in the behavior (the effect), it didn't mean the issues (the cause) would just go away. in fact, i'm only just starting to realize (once again) that a large part of what drove the effect (my old smoking behavior) was the desire to cover up the cause (the issues).

:::grabs shovel and flashlight, exits stage left:::

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3 responses leave one →
  1. 2003 March 8
    lori permalink

    kevin! it's like a hanging something at the end of this page?!?!!? what are the issues! I understand your point about us smoker's having them, but would love to know what they are as I'm struggilng with getting the determination to quit and know somewhere somehow that I have to work through these issues, yet don't know what they are (can only imagine!). thanks for all your awesome postings. I hope you are okay. my father was just diagnosed with emphysema (age 67, still smoking, probably terminal). Wish he could be like you. Lori

  2. 2004 June 8
    Margaret permalink

    For Lori, or anyone else, who reads Kevin's tale here, I understood it perfectly, but maybe you have to quit first for it to make so much sense (I'm not totally sure since I am already 57 days into the quit). I do think you should read a comment left on the page which is a Tale called "Rant Disclaimer." It was written by Kevin's sister, and certainly describes a lot of my issues. I also have to remember that "issues" have to be dealt with in the present (time). For me issues usually have to do with choices--about all kinds of things. Right now, I have made a good choice: I choose life without smoking.

  3. 2009 January 26

    note: the comments above were left on the original tale at the date and time indicated.

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