Ever, however, is way too long. There are not any evers in life. Ever belongs to the church, to mythology, to fairy tales. Our world, the real and tangible and smokable world, is about increments of time. Time since my last cigarette. Time before my last cigarette. Time it takes to smoke a cigarette. Time I need to suck on my electronic cigarette to make up for the time it took to smoke my last cigarette.
The last one is gone now. It burned up as I wrote this.
The prince and princess in fairy tales always live "happily ever after." Really? Ever? No arguments over toothpaste tubes or spoons in the fork spot? Apparently not because in a fairy tale you can have evers and nevers, and alwayses. The prince and princess live outside our conception of time.
As everything material is subject to change, we cannot talk about never smoking again. Because there are no nevers in the material world. A stone, sitting under a tree, will erode in time. The tree will age and die and fall. Never smoking again translates better into a continual choice not to smoke at a particular moment. NOW I will not smoke.
Free choice (or mostly free choice if you take away the conditioning and other psychological factors which impinge upon our decision-making) means that there can be no always or never. Our time-space continuum can only be perceived as linear. We do not know for sure what decision we will make on Monday, July 17th, 2034. We know what decision we make now, and we can plan to make the same decision again, but we cannot say always/never because the future is completely unknown. Moreover, you can only really calculate alwayses and nevers at the end.
"Mark Twain NEVER gave up cigars." True, and because he is dead, ALWAYS true. Unchangeable.
The last cigarette of the first paragraph is gone. I intend not to light another one. I intend to continue this pattern. My intentions are in the purview of the future and the different curveballs that it will throw at me as I meet it, one moment at a time. I cannot even predict reliably that, by the end of this post, I will not have smoked yet again.
What if a masked stranger jams a bazooka in my face and demands that I smoke again in the next 23 minutes? He could. It is not impossible.
And then there is the indomitable Ego. My "conglomeration of recurring thought forms and conditioned mental-emotional patterns that are invested with a sense of self" hates restriction. Really hates it. This means that as soon as I place a No Smoking sign around my lungs, I will automatically wish to rebel against it. Never mind that no one aside from me imposed the restriction. It is a restriction, dammit, and I hate it!
(No masked stranger yet...)
Forever has now been going on for a couple of hours now. It seems like forever. Maybe tomorrow time will resume its normal course. Or in a few days. Or never. In the meantime, I continue to resist regularly, in a pattern which may one day in the distant future be describes as "always."
We will not speak of this again. Ever.