Monday, May 16, 2005

Killing Someone You Love

Killing Someone You Love

Nobel Prize-winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a chain-smoker in his youth, often finishing four packs a day. He started smoking young, when he was still a teenager and the habit intensified during his years as a struggling writer.

After he was married and had children, he was still smoking heavily. One day, a doctor examined his lungs and told him that at the rate that he was smoking, in two or three years time, he would not be able to breathe anymore. But still he found kicking the habit of smoking the toughest thing he could ever do. He simply couldn't work, read, eat or sleep without a puff.

Then one day he happened to ask a psychiatrist friend to explain why the addiction to tobacco was so difficult to break. The psychiatrist gave him a simple answer:

"Because for you, quitting smoking would be like killing someone you love"

The answer triggered a flash of insight in Marquez. In his own words:
It was a sudden burst of clairvoyance. I never knew why and did not want to know, but I put out the cigarette I had just lit in the ashtray, and with no anxiety or regret I never smoked another one again in my life.
It is interesting how we are only able to grasp an idea or concept only when it is framed in a paradigm that we can identify with. No one writes better about the pain of love than Marquez (read Love in the Time of Cholera). When his psychiatrist friend likened quitting smoking to the pain of giving up the person one loves, only then did he found the strength to completely walk away from his old habit.

If you have someone you love but he or she keeps on hurting you and is not deserving of your love, you have to have the courage to walk away from the relationship. And when you do, you don't turn back because the strength to do so might not come to you again.

We all have loves that we ought to kill. When the opportunity arrives, take it. Only then can one live life afresh.

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