Life is finite. I knew it well but never thought of reading an experience of a journey of life that would suddenly culminate at the young age of thirty six, “When breath becomes air” by Paul Kalanithi is an autobiographical account of a neurosurgeon who at the peak of his career discovered that he was dying of lung cancer.
My sister told me about this book and after reading its review on internet, I placed an online order. Once, I got the book in my hands, I finished reading it in two days. It’s an easy read but the deeper meaning of life which Paul’s want to narrate through his experience demands us to not only read but ponder over his words.
Here’s this quote from his book in which he shares his thoughts about life. He writes
“There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.”
In the beginning Paul was confused about choosing his career. He loved literature and he loved doing writing but in order to understand the mysteries of human brain, he decided to pursue his career in neurosurgery.
I would recommend this book to medical students and to anyone who’s interested in reading about medical cases. There’s an account of real life dramas that happens in corridors of hospitals. Paul’s gives us an account of details he witnessed as a medical student and also describes his experience of saving many lives as a senior neurosurgeon.
The best thing about Paul’s writing style is his way of mentioning quotes from literature that goes well with his life experiences. He was a doctor and he was aware that his illness of lung cancer was life threatening yet he did his best to fight off his disease. He continued doing his job till his body became too weak to carry weight of struggles of life.
Sunday Times considered it a powerful and poignant tale. There are many passages which I liked to read again and again but reading this one passage where Kalanithi was bidding his final adieu to his dream job of neurosurgery left me speechless.
“I left the OR shortly after, then gathered my things, which had accumulated over seven years of work___ extra sets of clothes for the nights you don’t leave, tooth-brushes, bars of soap, phone chargers, snacks, my skull model and collection of neurosurgery books, and so on. On second thought, I left my books behind. They’s be of more use here.
On my way out to the parking lot, a fellow approached to ask me something, but his pager went off. He looked at it, waved,turned, and ran back in to the hospital___”I’ll catch you later!” he called over his shoulder. Tears welled up as I sat in the car, turned the key, and slowly pulled out into the street. I drove home, walked through the front door, hung up my white coat, and took off my ID badge. I pulled the battery out of my pager. I peeled off my scrubs….
This book has taught me that life is finite. There’s a certain amount of time that’s been allotted to all of us on this earth but “Cease not till death” should remain our approach in life.
This post is written in response to daily post Finite