Quit by Choice

while you still have a choice.

What Have You Got to Lose?

For me, it was music.

Some of my earliest and fondest memories revolve around music:

  • Coloring the keys on the old upright piano on our front porch with crayons so I could visualize how to play songs that I’d heard (I somehow figured out that all the “C”s were basically the same note — probably the repeating pattern of white and black keys — and colored the “C” in every octave blue, then picked a color for each of the other 6 “white notes” and made them that color in every octave); I was maybe 6 years old at the time…
  • Literally begging my parents to let me stay up and watch the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show (Ed Sullivan came on at 8:00PM, which was past my bedtime, but I got them to let me stay up); I was around 8 years old…
  • My Nana (that’s what we called mom’s mom) making my aunt leave the car running until the song I was listening to (the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride”) finished playing on the radio; I was 8 or 9 years old…
  • Joining my first drum corps and learning to play the bugle (I would be involved in drum corps — as a marching member and later as music instructor, arranger, and music director — into my mid-30s); I was 11 years old…
  • Going to college to study music and spending the next 10 years working towards my Master’s degree (which I earned from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati in 1992)…

Life Was Good

For the 6 years following my graduation from CCM, I worked as a professional musician (performing on trombone, piano, and voice; composing and arranging music for drum corps, marching bands and stage bands; acting as a location recording/mixing engineer and later producer; in short, doing anything musical I could to make a living). It was dicey (especially for the first few years), but I loved what I was doing, and I didn’t need anything more than that. Life was good.

Until it Wasn’t

Then disaster struck: I was diagnosed with an advanced case of emphysema, which I gave myself by choosing to feed my addiction to nicotine for 35 years. I robbed myself of the ability to play or sing at a professional level (it’s impossible to play the trombone or sing on a professional level when you’ve wrecked your lungs) and getting paid to play or sing had been the realization of a life-long dream; when I killed that, a huge part of myself died. I was so discouraged that I gave up music completely, even listening to it…

A Word to the Wise

If you’re still smoking, and you’re putting off getting started on this quit, or you’ve been quit for a while and are starting to get tired of the struggle and you’re entertaining thoughts of “just this one”, think about what you’ve got to lose: so many quits are thrown away (or not even attempted) because addicts like us tend to focus on the immediate gratification of that next fix and be in denial about the consequences of continuing to feed our addictions.

Just get started. Or just keep going. The long-term benefits of quitting far outweigh the temporary discomfort of making the adjustment, and it really does get easier the longer you stay free.

As long as you hang in there.

As long as you choose life.

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