this is a ramble i wrote when i reached 15 months of being quit; it was originally posted on february 19, 2003, and it talks about the unstoppable power of repeated conscious choice to free us. or to enslave us.

it’s all about choice

2009 February 22

fifteen months ago this morning, i woke up, looked myself in the eye - in the bedroom mirror - and said, "i am a nicotine addict. i cannot afford to feed that addiction. not even one time. so, today, i choose not to smoke". as i waited for the coffee to finish brewing, i sat down at my desk, opened my brand new quit journal and wrote those same words on the first page under the heading, "11/19/01 - Day One".

never underestimate the power of repeated conscious choice.

since then, what i've come to think of as my "mantra" has expanded; it now reads:


"i am a nicotine addict.

i cannot afford to feed that addiction.

not even one time.

~ so ~

today, i choose life!

today, i choose health!

today, i choose strength!

today, i choose self-control!

today, i choose freedom!

today, i choose not to smoke!"


and lately, on most days, that's my entire entry in my quit journal, but i still write it out every day.

because it's all about choice.

when i was ten years old, i made my first in a long series of choices about smoking; i chose to try it. it burned my throat, it hurt my lungs, it made me cough my head off, it made me feel dizzy and sick to my stomach, but in spite of all that, not too long afterwards, i made my second in that long series of choices about smoking; i chose to do it again. and i continued choosing to do it, over and over again, until i became addicted.

never underestimate the power of repeated conscious choice.

after a dozen or so years, i grew tired of being controlled by what i thought of then as my smoking habit (it was around this time that tony randall was starring in a series of public service announcements with the theme, "kick the habit!" - many of my fellow baby-boomers will no doubt remember those spots - i'm sure that whoever was behind that campaign had the best of intentions, but they were seriously misguided; their slogan minimized the addictive nature of smoking, and their spokesman minimized the effort required for most people to stop feed that addiction by making quitting smoking seem like the easiest thing in the world to do...), and so i made a different choice about smoking; i chose not to do it any more.

unfortunately, "kicking the habit" turned out to be a lot harder than i had anticipated, and fairly soon i started choosing to smoke again.

over the course of the next thirty years (give or take), i chose to quit smoking on a number of occasions (one time, i managed to stay quit for over three years), but sooner or later, i always chose to go back to smoking again.

finally, in november of 2001, my repeated conscious choice to continue smoking "paid off"; i could no longer lie down on my back when i went to bed, because it was too much of a struggle to breathe in that position, and the death rattle i heard coming from my chest scared the hell out of me. i went to my doctor about it, and was diagnosed with an advanced case of emphysema.

i remember my doctor showing me the chest x-rays and saying, "you see those big black areas on your lungs? they used to be alive. now they're dead, and they'll never grow back. they're gone forever. and if you continue to smoke, those black areas will continue to grow, and you'll struggle for every breath until you finally lose the battle and suffocate".

i took that as a wake-up call, and started making a new choice: i started choosing not to smoke. i started choosing life. i started choosing health. i started choosing strength. i started choosing self-control. i started choosing freedom.

and i made those choices every day. just like i used to choose to smoke every day.

this morning, the heading in my quit journal (i'm on my third one, by the way) read "2/19/03 - day 458 (15 months!)". the entry under that heading was pretty simple (as it usually is, these days):


"i am a nicotine addict.

i cannot afford to feed that addiction.

not even one time.

~ so ~

today, i choose life!

today, i choose health!

today, i choose strength!

today, i choose self-control!

today, i choose freedom!

today, i choose not to smoke!"


never underestimate the power of repeated conscious choice.

choose life!

kevin - grateful to be in my 458th day of freedom!

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