farewell to ffs
four score and seven days ago, i stumbled onto the american lung association website and the freedom from smoking program.
the only difference between you and me is time and repeated conscious choice.
almost literally stumbled; i was still reeling from the news that i had just gotten from my doctor - that, by continuing to feed my addiction to nicotine for so long (35 years, give or take), i had given myself a very bad case of emphysema, and, if i didn't quit smoking now, it would kill me - and it would not be a pretty death.
as soon as i got home from that appointment, i googled the word "emphysema" (hell, i didn't even know what this thing was that was trying to kill me!) and the first website in the list of results was the american lung association site, so i clicked over to see what it had to say.
as i was looking around the site, my eye kept getting drawn to the menu at the right-hand side of the page - more specifically, to the link on that menu that said "freedom from smoking online" - so i clicked on it, read about the ffs program, and decided to go through it. a week later, i quit smoking.
and i've never looked back.
i feel incredibly blessed to have found this place and these people when i did. i had quit countless times over the years, and always relapsed; i firmly believe it was the sense of community, of being part of a larger effort, of not only being pulled along by the people that had gone before, but being propped up by the people beside me and reaching back to lend a hand to the people coming up behind that has finally allowed me to get to a place where i am 100% certain that i will not relapse.
but there comes a time when you have to move on, and for me, the time is at hand. over the past few weeks, i've been posting less and less, and i thought i'd just stop and fade off into the sunset... but people have started to wonder where i am and what's going on with me, and i've realized that i can't just walk away without a word.
so here it is:
to the people who went down the road of freedom before me and were kind and generous enough to reach back and pull me along: your encouragement has helped me save my life; there are no words adequate to express my gratitude to you.
to my brothers and sisters in the quit who started out down the road with me in the middle of november: your companionship and camaraderie has been a lifeline to me; i can only hope that you've gotten half the value out of our association that i did - if that's true, you've been richly blessed, you've certainly been a blessing to me.
to the people who started out a while after i did, who i was inspired (by the people who went before me) to reach back to, to encourage and support and advise and occasionally chide: you've helped me immeasurably; the effort it took to reach back and pull you along with me strengthened me in so many ways - i know that many of you know exactly what i mean, because i saw you doing the same thing in turn for the people who came along the road behind you.
to the people who've just started (or are now getting ready to start) down the road of freedom: know that it's possible. understand that neither i, nor anyone that went before or came after me down this road is superhuman. we're all of us just like you; we had the same fears, the same doubts, the same pangs and cravings, the same temptations, the same choices to make, every step of the way.
the only difference between me and you is time and choice. maybe you're on day one and i'm on day eighty-one; what does that mean? it just means that i started eighty days before you making the same choice you made today; that i will not smoke today. and i've made that choice eighty more times than you have so far. that's all.
all we ever get is today; yesterday's gone and tomorrow's just a fantasy. here's the secret: as long as you keep choosing not to smoke today, tomorrow will take care of itself.
take good care of yourselves, and take good care of each other; i'll be back from time to time to say hi and see how you're doing.
kevin - day 81