Trippin’: Roads, Rails, and Mountain Trails
Episode 37, June 1971
I finally felt free! Fresh air seemed fresher than ever. I had tried to quit smoking on multiple occasions without success. Rolling my own cigarettes for two years had reduced my intake, but for nearly six months now, I'd been nicotine-free. I had taken the plunge and quit, back in November when Rosie and I were busy painting our new trailer. I remembered that day...
I dipped my paintbrush in the rich brown liquid and began stroking it on the side of the trailer "I'm going to do it," I announced.
Rosie looked over as she layered paint with her brush. "What's that?"
"Today I'm going to quit smoking."
"For real? Haven’t I heard that before?"
"Yeah. I’ve been thinking about it for a while—ever since reading that article in Kansas City from the underground newspaper that Bill writes for."
"I vaguely remember that piece. What did it say again?"
"I almost have it memorized because I’ve read it so many times. It goes something like this." I changed my voice to give it a sinister tone.
“I am the cigarette habit. I reside in a dark corner of your brain, and I’m so subtle and clever you rarely know I exist, but I control you. I tell you, again and again, that you want and need a cigarette, even though you don’t really like the taste anymore. It doesn’t matter that you don’t enjoy the smell on your breath, hate that your car, home, and clothes stink to others, or that it causes your throat to burn and your eyes to sting. Nor does it matter that it has reduced your physical abilities, diminished your senses of taste and smell, and may shorten your life. You still listen to me when I tell you that you need a smoke.
At times you get the wild idea to quit the habit, but I always sneak in at a weak moment and whisper, ‘Just one won’t hurt and I really need it.’ And, ha, you are hooked again. Sometimes you think it feels cool to smoke, but that’s just another of my subtle lies. You’re really my pawn. You think you are free, but you are actually my slave. For I control you because I am the master of control. You follow my orders every day. I am the nicotine habit and I am the ruler of your life!"
"Rosie said, "Wow, the smoking habit is quite devious, isn't it?"
"Yeah, but that editorial sparked my rebellious nature. I was pissed off that something could have such a hold over me. I also listened to Phil. He'd quit smoking for eight years, then bought himself a celebratory cigar after winning the daily double at the racetrack. That one cigar led him back into a two-pack a day habit. His experience taught me that when I quit, I can't even take one puff—ever! Not even one!
“Now I'm ready to do it. I'm done with those son-of-a-bitchin' coffin nails and I'm not going to take it lightly!"
As I reflected about that distant November day, I was proud that I had made the commitment and kept my vow. The process of quitting had been difficult but interesting. For the first several days, I wanted a smoke every half hour, then maybe every two or three hours. By the second week, I only longed for a smoke, a few times a day. When the fourth week rolled around, the cravings merely came once a week—and by the second month, maybe once or twice a month. But as the frequency diminished, the force of the cravings increased, taking considerable willpower to resist.
As the months continued, most attacks came at times of weakness—when some bummer put me in an “I don't give a damn” mentality. One day, I stopped in my tracks, realizing I had smoked a cigarette. I remembered every inhale and even flicking each ash into an ashtray. But as I searched my memory, I realized I had dreamt the entire sequence.
Now, after six months, I was finally free. I still smoked pot when the opportunity presented itself, but nicotine no longer held me hostage. I was full of pride with my accomplishment—while respectful of the hidden danger.
I knew I could never get careless. Phil taught me that much.
To be continued...
Author’s note: I included this episode of my life in the hope it might serve as an inspiration for someone to kick the insidious cigarette habit.
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Trippin': Roads, Rails & Mountain Trails
In book 2 of his Hippie Adventurer Series, Rich takes us on another wild ride during the 1960s as he and his faithful canine companion, Charlie, hitchhike, hop freights, work in an Alaskan gold mining camp, and manage a Sacramento Valley cattle ranch.
A Message from Rich
Trippin’ is my gift to all of you. For me, the ’60s were a heartfelt time of growth, exploration, freedom, and brotherhood. I hope to impart a truthful account of what it was like to live as a hippie in that wacky, magical era. Enjoy the journey!
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If you haven’t read the first book in the Hippie Adventurer Series, the award-winning Groovin’: Horses, Hopes, and Slippery Slopes, you can find it on Amazon and Audible.
1A. Escape from Heavy Caverns