If there is any possible consolation in the tragedy of losing someone we love very much, it’s the necessary hope that perhaps it was for the best.

I wake and fall asleep with that certainty; it’s best that Athena left when she did rather than descend into the infernos of this world. She would never have regained her peace of mind. The rest of her life would have been a bitter clash between her personal dreams and collective reality. Knowing her as I did, she would have battled on to the end, wasting her energy and her joy on trying to prove something that no one, absolutely no one, was prepared to believe.

Who knows, perhaps she sought death the way a shipwrecked victim seeks an island. She must have stood late at night in many a Tube station, waiting for muggers who never came. She must have walked through the most dangerous parts of London in search of a murderer who never appeared or perhaps tried to provoke the anger of the physically strong, who refused to get angry.

Until, finally, she managed to get herself brutally murdered.But, then, how many of us will be saved the pain of seeing the most important things in our lives disappearing from one moment to the next? I don’t just mean people, but our ideas and dreams too: we might survive a day, a week, a few years, but we’re all condemned to lose. Our body remains alive, yet sooner or later our soul will receive the mortal blow. The perfect crime—for we don’t know who murdered our joy, what their motives were, or where the guilty parties are to be found.

Are they aware of what they’ve done, those nameless guilty parties? I doubt it because they too—the depressed, the arrogant, the impotent, and the powerful—are the victims of the reality they created.

Excerpt From The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho

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