Monday, October 4, 2010


Monday, October 4, 2010

“I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier 'til this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer…. V." (Virginia Woolf’s suicide note, 28 March 1941)

Virginia Woolf filled her coat pocket with stones and walked into the river; David Foster Wallace hanged himself; Ernest Hemingway shot himself in the mouth; Hunter S. Thompson shot himself in the head; John Kennedy Toole ran a garden hose from the exhaust pipe to his car where he was found dead; and Sylvia Plath thrust her head in the gas oven and died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Reading about the lives of these writers who all chose to quit life made me think about what quitting entails. It is always less difficult to let things be than to make a decision, and for these writers to choose life over death, a cowardly thing to do for some, must have required firmness of mind and will, or so I thought.

Those who quit, if not pitied, are treated with dismissive scorn, and those who endure against all odds are looked up to with wide-eyed awe; quitters are cowards, and survivors are heroes. I wonder why this is so. Why is quitting seen as terrible and unacceptable? But more importantly, what makes a person quit school, quit work, quit a relationship, quit life?

In a world where everything has become disposable and replaceable, giving up too easily for no apparent reason is unacceptable. We try as much as we can to hold on to that thing because it is worth holding on to. We do not quit because it is only by staying on that we would get what we’ve always wanted and strived for.

But what is so terrible about quitting when by doing so you would free yourself from crippling anxiety and spare yourself more pain? There is no point in deluding yourself that everything will fall into place when you know, deep down, that it will not. Is it wrong or shameful to admit that you cannot do it anymore or bear it any longer? Why continue something that isn’t making you happy anymore? They say that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, but what if it just leaves you broken in the end?


Loree said...

Profound thoughts which are difficult to answer. Quitting is not a bad thing but choosing death over life is something that a lot of people cannot grasp. I think that, as the saying goes, you need to walk a mile in someone's shoes to know what they are going through. So there are questions that can only by answered by the people who have to live through the situation. And I will stop here or this comment is going to be as long as a whole blogpost :)

Sinta said...

Excellent post with some very disturbing thoughts to mull over. I guess when it comes to quitters, it's more the people who are left behind I worry about. But I'm a full supporter of free choice and euthanasia.

mordsith said...

I guess we really oughta know when to stop. When everything is futile.

I like Woolf and Plath. They're friends, right?

Artemis said...

haha, the only reason why i'm not quitting is because there is no assurance that the other side is better than this side.. i also respect quitters' choices..

Angeli said...

artemis, i'm not even sure if there is indeed another side. what if this side is all we've got after all? :)

hi mordsith, i'm not sure if virginia and sylvia are friends. virginia is much older though..

you are right, loree. we do not really know what goes on in other people's minds. and i definitely agree with sinta on free choice and euthanasia (and even abortion).

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