this tale was written on the occasion of having been quit for three months (it was originally posted on february 19, 2002); in it, i invite the reader to come along on the journey of freedom from smoking.

you come too

2009 February 5

I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I shan't be gone long. -- You come too.
  - Robert Frost, The Pasture

this is not an easy trip to make. in fact, for some of us, it’ll be the hardest thing we’ve ever done. but it’s possible.

three months ago today, i quit smoking for the final time. as i thought about what i'd write in my diary on this milestone occasion, the tag line of this poem ("you come too") kept coming back to me. because the thing i'd most like to do on this occasion is to invite everyone who's still a slave to their addiction to nicotine to come along on the journey of freedom. the thing i'd most like to do is to encourage those that are just starting that journey, and may not be feeling very confident yet, to come along, too. the thing i'd most like to do is let everyone who hasn't got three months behind them yet know that it's possible to get at least this far...

because when i was getting ready to quit this time, there were people i met online that were ahead of me on the road of freedom, and they cared enough to reach back and take me by the hand and say, "look! i'm doing it; you come too!". at the time, i wasn't sure i believed them, but i was willing to try; i was willing to entertain the idea that it might be possible for me to win my freedom back.

because when i was taking my first tentative steps along this road, and the demon was still calling my name real strong, and i kept feeling like i'd just have to give in and turn around and go back into voluntary slavery to that son of a bitch, there were people a little further along the road who cared enough to turn around and say, "no, you don't have to give up; the demon can only win if you let him. you'll be o.k. just keep walking and never look back; it gets easier after a while. the voice of the demon gets fainter the further down the road you come - we can barely hear him any more; only when the wind's just right..."

because when times occasionally got tough, and i started to feel weak, or wonder if it was really worth it to keep walking down this road, there were people up ahead who cared enough to turn around and say, "keep going, kevin! it is so worth it! wait'll you see the view from up here; you won't believe it - it's incredible!"

and i believed them, and i kept going, and i'm still going, and they were right: this is so worth it! there's nothing to compare to the feeling of freedom!

and i still believe them: when Debi tells me what a beautiful view she's got from her 6-month perspective, i believe her! when Chrissy tells me how spectacular the scenery is up at 7 months along the road, i believe her! when Ruby turns around and tells me how breathtaking the vista is out a year down the road, you know i believe her! and i'm gonna keep on following them, because i want to get to where they are now, and then i'll want to get to where they are then, and so on...

and i believe that part of the toll on this road of freedom is to reach back to the people who are coming up the road behind you and let them know what's coming up, so they don't get tripped up by it.

i believe part of the toll is to turn around and tell the people who are just starting out that they can do it, too; to let them know that we all had to start with day one, that we all had to survive the first 72 hours, we all had to go through hell week...

i believe that part of the toll is sending the message back to those people who are standing at the beginning of the road, wanting to take that first step, that it's o.k. - there were people down this road before you, there will be people coming down the road after you, and others that'll be walking beside you all the way...

this is not an easy trip to make. in fact, for some of us, it'll be the hardest thing we've ever done. but it's possible. it's all about choice: every day, you get to choose whether to be free or be a slave. whether to be strong or weak. to be in control or to be controlled. to embrace life or resign yourself to death.

today, i choose life.

today, i choose health.

today, i choose strength.

today, i choose self-control.

today, i choose not to smoke.

today, i choose to keep walking down the road of freedom.

you come too.

25 responses leave one →
  1. 2003 October 25
    Robert Skoglund permalink

    My mother was dead at 54 from lung cancer. Because I love my brother very much, I offered him 80 acres of land if he'd quit smoking. He said no. I told him I wouldn't ask him again and he thanked me. I have never seen anything that compares to the destructive power of nicotine.

    The humble Farmer. 25 years on Maine Public Radio

  2. 2004 January 7
    alf permalink

    day five and communing with my demons

  3. 2004 August 8
    Frederick permalink

    This made me cry.

  4. 2004 November 7
    kelly permalink

    I FELT this to the very core of my being....I will be following right behind you!!!

  5. 2005 January 18
    Carrie permalink

    Oh WOW, Thank You for the hope you have given me today, and to my buddy who is 2 weeks behind me.

    YES,YES,YES, we can do it.


  6. 2005 January 19
    Elise permalink

    I was ready to break down today,and was sent to this page by a friend I've never met. Thank-you for making me re-think my decision, and yes..."I wan't to come too."

  7. 2005 January 19
    Diana permalink

    Thank god for everyone ahead-I actually resented the "non-smokers" before my quit date, probably out of fear. I can do this, I want to see the road ahead-18 months, 5 years, all of it! Thank you!

  8. 2005 January 20
    heidi permalink

    I was fighting with that same demon and he almost had me convinced until some on FFS posted this site.Then I read this and gained every ounce of my strength back. Free for 12 days, and I want to come too!

  9. 2005 January 20
    Angie permalink

    I have been so emotional so needless to say I am still wiping tears from my eyes. I just want to say Thanks for the invitation and if you don't mind I believe that I will come too.

  10. 2005 January 21
    Stacie permalink

    Thank you.

  11. 2006 May 23
    zugiebear76 permalink

    I just wanted you to know that I still refer people to this letter. It is that powerful. Thank you

  12. 2006 October 23
    marie permalink

    i'll come too...i'm glad you picked up the pin, kevin. you have been so helpful. i liked the other thoughts in "The Pasture". it is peaceful to think about "cleaning the pasture spring and wait to watch the water clear"...i am so depressed, 40 pounds later, and my thoughts this week have been to watch nature/God's creation. i didn't sleep well for about three nights in a row. one night when i finally got to sleep, i slept till about 8 o'clock the next morning. I looked out my window and the cherry tree was just full of frolicking birds. They were so beautiful as the played together, flying up and down, then they just suddenly moved on. i thanked Jesus, and just reached up and gave Him a hug. it felt so good as i hugged myself...

  13. 2007 November 1
    Grammi Gail permalink

    Awesome. How inspirational. Thanks!


    Smoking 48 years - quit 39 days

  14. 2008 July 8
    Kathy permalink

    I had tears running down my face reading this. I so much want to see "the beautiful view" and am on day 4 towards it. I have serious health issues - all cigarette related - but slept without that whistling or wheezing sound for the first time in years last night. I will come right along with you if I may. Kathy

  15. 2009 February 5

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

  16. 2009 August 5
    Cindy permalink

    I had my quit date for august 15. After reading this I have laid them down. With constant reading this and one step at a time one minute at a time I will conquer this. I WANT TO LIVE. I have smoked menthol for many years and my lungs will tell you each one has been a rough road. THANK YOU. I am adding this to my favorites and reading it always. I will pass this along to my friends struggling. Hopefully it will inspire them too.

  17. 2010 January 18

    WOW this has blown my mind I am on day 25 and was struggling loads and picked this out of a smoking forum and it has realy made me feel better
    Hope the writer has managed to continue along the road and not had to stop to often
    My hand is now warmer for being held by yours and I am reaching back to take another hand within mine and we shall make a chain of love and strength to pull us all along to the place where the nicodemons cannot get in
    Love and hugs to all

  18. 2010 January 21
    Barbara permalink

    Just by chance I clicked on this site and read what you have written.
    I have been feeling a bit low today (This is my 3rd day) and heyho I am once again inspired to carry on.
    Thank you sooo very much.

  19. 2010 February 11
    Judi permalink

    I, too read this being referred from another blog. It really spoke to me. I'm on day one and feeling miserable! What you wrote is beautiful and spoke to me like nothing else. I wish I could print it and post in my house! Thank you!


  20. 2010 April 28
    Sandra Smokefree permalink

    Well said. I'm on day 38 and i'll come too x

  21. 2011 April 8

    I'm on day 28 - I'll come too !- thankyou for this brilliant story!

  22. 2011 August 9
    eddiev permalink

    i am with you all as well...i am on day 9 of my walk of freedom....what a view!!!!!

  23. 2014 April 1
    Kevin permalink

    DON'T take this down! Just found it today when I needed some strength! Some of us are just starting down the path.

  24. 2014 August 30
    Carrie permalink

    I found this blog again in my bookmarks - 5 years after I quit. I used to read it every day back when it was so hard. It gave me the strength for 'just one more day'. Thank you so much for this. It really did get me through and convinced me I was strong enough to quit. And I have. I've kicked my demon into the gutter. I can still hear him though - especially if the wind is in the right direction. I know he hasn't gone away. But I'm far stronger than he is now. I'm free of my addiction and the view is awesome.....

  25. 2017 April 10
    Caz permalink

    I too want to thank you - all the way from Australia - for this blog. It is still in my bookmarks 7 years after I quit. I used to go to it every day, back in those dark days when I just didn't think I could go on another day, and it always gave me the strength to get through that day. It took about 2 years before I no longer needed to look at it but I still see it there, listed in my bookmarks and I will never delete it. Not only is your blog a reminder of the power of human willpower but it is also a talisman for warding off the evil of addiction. I am finally free of my addiction, which is something I never thought I'd be able to say and your support and encouragement played a large part in that achievement.

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