The train smoothly slides into late morning and the bright yellow sunshine makes us tired. It makes you want to smoke…again. It makes me want to intravenously insert caffeine into my veins. Neither of these choices will add up to anything good in the future. We currently could not care about this because it is this dangerous time of day when we are desperate to perk ourselves up.
You look over at me as I am writing. I feel your gaze in the side of my cheek and I sense the tension behind it. It drains me because I know what it means. You will get tired of trying to fight against the addiction. You will smoke again and I will understand.
The day will come when you are finally sick to death of it, or maybe just sick. You won’t know until it happens to you. You will say never, that it only happens to others. COPD, emphysema, dreaded cancer. You are immune to these things right now. How dare your body get sick from all those chemicals?
You start feeling selfish and pitiful. You don’t really care to fight this right now with everything else going on in your life. You thought it was the right time and then your second thoughts have succeeded in turning you back. I don’t worry too much about you though. The fact that you are even here reading this and taking this journey with me is all I can hope for. You have to want this for yourself and you probably already know that no amount of nagging from anyone who cares about you is going to change it. In fact, it probably only makes it worse.
Suddenly you cannot wait for the next stop. You are now practically drooling for a smoke. The next stop comes and you step off the train. I watch as you light up and we pull away. I wish I could join you, but I have literally written it out that I will never smoke again. I have had it tattooed on my body and continue to honor the commitment. I take a deep breath, something that I couldn’t do eight years ago, and let it out slowly. I go back to my page with my favorite pen.
The Queen waits for me to start writing and intervenes with a message, as She has been doing since that day in the church. She wants me to go back for you. She tells me that it is important that I don’t forget about you because no matter how you may be feeling right now, you aren’t upset with me or what I am trying to do. You need to hear it, loud and clear and there is no one else to explain it quite the way I can.
The next stop is coming up. I stand up and wait for the train to slow down. She looks at me one more time before She heads into the next car, disappearing into the shadows and sleeping people. I step out onto the platform into the mid-afternoon sun and put my hands up to shield my eyes. I need to get back to where you are and I am not even sure you are still there. I worry that you have abandoned everything we thought and felt in the pond of reflections. I know how it feels to fail and keep failing. I know what it is like to just give up and give in and tell myself I will start again tomorrow. I also know what it is like to be afraid of succeeding.
I walk along the tracks for an hour and I am wondering what I will say to you when I see you. All of that ends when I finally arrive and you are not there. You are not anywhere. I take a seat and wait, optimistic that you will return.
Meanwhile, the Queen has found you. She lightly sprinkles hope and desire into your eyes as you watch yourself smoke in the reflection of a car window. You are horrified at the sight of the cloud coming from your mouth. It looks so unnatural, so destructive. You instantly drop the cigarette and sit down between the rows of cars. You are upset with yourself because you should have been stronger, smarter, better. The emotions begin to swirl and dance within you as you understand that you could indeed catch the next train and travel towards the freedom you deliriously crave. Now that you have pumped nicotine in, all is right with the world and you can take it on with no problem.
You are fooling yourself and see nothing wrong with it. You see me sitting by the platform with a tired look on my face. You don’t apologize as you join me. There is no need. I smile at you and point to clouds in the sky that look like elephants.
“You remember how Dumbo thought he could fly holding that feather. All you need is that “feather” for yourself. This feather can be anything you want it to be. Create your feather. Create your thoughts and paths without inviting your addiction. Sooner or later, the addiction gets no attention and its voice begins to quiet down. It lays down on the tracks and dies, if you will only leave it there.”
You think about how the example of a flying elephant is ridiculous for a moment and then you understand that it’s something inside the elephant’s head that believes in his ability to fly. You have that same ability to create an association that will be the key to your freedom. For me, it was getting creative in any way I could. What is it that you have always wanted to do and told yourself you could not do? This is the key to the door that opens the portal to your freedom. Your feathers lay beyond it. Isn’t it time you came and claimed them?
Carole Anzolletti is an artist and author. In 2004, she ended a cigarette addiction of seventeen years. She literally wrote her way to freedom and invites you to participate in introspection and illumination.