Tuesday, August 22, 2006
J.P. Getty, Meet C.S. Lewis
A blog article by my friend and colleague, Fred Sanders:
In his 1965 book How to Be Rich: The Success Secrets of a Billionaire Businessman, J. Paul Getty (1892-1976) tells the story of how he quit smoking. On a vacation in France, he woke up at two A.M. in his hotel room, craving a cigarette. Finding none in his pack, none in his jacket, none in his luggage, he decided to make the hike to the nearest all-night vendor, at the train station six blocks away. It was pouring rain in the middle of the night in a small town in France. In Getty’s own words:
But the desire to smoke gnawed at me, and, perversely, the more I contemplated the difficulties entailed in getting a cigarette, the more desperately I wanted to have one. And so I took off my pajamas and started putting on my clothes. I was completely dressed and reaching for my raincoat when I abruptly stopped and began to laugh –at myself. It had suddenly struck me that my actions were illogical, even ludicrous.
There I stood, a supposedly intelligent human being, a supposedly reponsible and fairly successful businessman who considered himself sensible enough to give other people orders. Yet I was ready to leave my comfortable hotel room in the middle of the night and slosh a dozen blocks through a driving rainstorm for no other reason than that I wanted a cigarette –because I felt that I “had” to have one.
Thus J.P. Getty took a step back from himself, saw the situation from outside, and had to laugh at the little tobacco sticks that were somehow in command of the great businessman. The comedy of the situation came from the contrast in scale, because this silly little habit just did not measure up to the stature of the intelligent, responsible, successful, sensible commander of men. Getty crumpled up his empty pack of cigarettes, and with it he crumpled up the tobacco habit in one decisive movement, a triumph of will power over the force of habit.
Read the rest: http://www.scriptoriumdaily.com/middlebrow/archives/jp-getty-meet-c-s-lewis/#more-280