The Lesson I learned From an Old Man in the Time it Took to Smoke a Cigarette

Old Man

I was travelling in Canada (I’m from England) and stopped to buy a drink at a little grocery store.

An oldish looking guy followed me out and asked if I had a cigarette. I gave him a cigarette and lit one up and he started asking about the tattoos on my arms. I told him the stories behind them all and noticed he only had one on his forearm. 

In a small, nondescript font it said “Just for today”

I asked him the story behind it and what followed was a tale of him doing every hard drug and [sleeping with] every woman who came his way for 30 years. He had been clean and sober for 12 months at this point after joining a 12 step program and he explained how just for today was one of the steps and it meant that no matter how bad the cravings or the withdrawals, just focus on getting through today because tomorrow is a new fight.

He told me I will come across people in this world who will be toxic, and not to let them lead me astray, [] to continue on the path I was on, live within my means and no matter what live just for today.

That was 4 years ago.

I’ll never forget the lessons he taught me in the time it took to smoke a cigarette.

I’ve travelled extensively in the last 4 years and have met many interesting people. He changed my life with the story of his life and I don’t even remember his name. Wherever you are, I hope you are still on the wagon my friend.

When I am done getting tattoo’s and I am ready to finish this chapter in my own story I plan to “sign off” by getting “just for today” somewhere on my arm as a tribute to an amazing individual I once shared a cigarette with.

by Nicholas R.



  1. Thank you, Nicholas, for sharing your story with us. Your sensibility, kindness and love for fellow human beings is very refreshing and inspiring.
    I’m new to WordPress, but so far you’re one of my favorite writers I’ve stumbled upon so far.
    Be blessed.

    Liked by 1 person

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