“And with that, the future I had imagined, the one just about to be realized, the culmination of decades of striving, evaporated.” (Kalanithi 16)
Context: Paul, training to be a neurosurgeon had just found out he was dying. Cancer, widely disseminated.
Commentary: (R) This passage reveals the insightful revelation of how much our sense of self is tied up with our sense of potential and possibility. But what person do we become when the prosperity of possibility and life is scrapped? For this situation, our state of mind toward what we think about the failings of our bodies: torment and, in a definitive outrageous, death. We attempt to manage the terms on which these apparent failings may happen; in light of the fact that, we regard them forbidden, in ourselves and in each other.
“Medical school sharpened my understanding of the relationship between meaning, life, and death.” (Kalanithi 51)
Context: Kalanithi brings the components of philosophy and medical science to relation in his schooling. The components of life presents itself in his studies.
Commentary: (E) Doctor’s bear the responsibility to save precious life, such an important role. What doctors should learn, the skill of dealing with meaning, worth, and identity of all patients at such a critical and vulnerable time of their life. Kalanithi lucidly explains this relation between philosophy and medical science. A serious question poses itself whether the philosophical and biological exercise becomes a necessary lesion for doctors.
“One day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second…. Birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.” (Kalanithi 65)
Context: Kalanithi’s views on birth and death definitely takes a toll as he is faced with a diagnosis of cancer, differentiating his opinion from everyone else’s.
Commentary: (E) Kalanithi describes death quite extreme to be brutally honest… revealing his view that as soon as you are born your falling towards the grave. Yes, death is inevitable, however the inbetween of birth and death isn’t expressed often by Paul, unlike the common view of the lifetime that passes. I guess in our matters, the difference between lifetime and immediate is solely interpretation.
“At those critical junctures, the question is not simply whether to live or die but what kind of life is worth living? (Kalanithi 71)
Context: As repetitive as it sounds, Paul reflects his worth he left on the world. Often leaving him question the deeper meaning.
Commentary: (C) It is important to understand Paul didn’t want his audience to feel sorry from him, rather sharing his attempt at philosophizing what a virtuous life really entails. We do not to fear death, for all living beings do in the end pass. We should endeavor to comprehend it, how our ethics change as we creep nearer to it, winding up more mindful and careful.
“Our patients lives and identities may be in our hands, yet death always wins. Even if you are perfect, the world isn’t. (Kalanithi 115)
Context: Reflecting back on many unsuccessful surgeries Paul has completed he makes the comparison between the world as it is pure, in the face of evil.
Commentary: (C) Often we see ourselves striving for perfection, such as Paul’s book tributes with his incredible intellect and his sense of moral duty. While reading, Paul’s words almost hinted at me, questioning what me or anyone might want to do with our lives in the face of one’s short-lived existence. It’s relatively interesting to see Paul coming to terms with mortality. As the book continues, something that is important to recognize, transience has a very poignant recurrence throughout Paul’s journey.
“The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.” (Kalanithi 132)
Context: As you read his writing and begin to self-look at your own particular life you may pass into an existential emergency.
Commentary: (Q) There is for sure a certainty of death, a demonstration we should grasp and regard whether it’s transpiring or not. In any case, it is one thing to characterize an existence, however it is another to really experience every day knowing it just might be our last. One truly never knows whether “life’s hourglass may rashly break making the sand spill to the ground.” At last, will your life be one that you are pleased with? Will it be one that others discuss as significant?
“I struggled, while facing my own death, to rebuild my own life— or perhaps find a new one.” (Kalanithi 139)
Context: Paul is confronted with what he wants to continue doing while battling cancer. Will he remain a neurosurgeon? Begin writing? Have a kid?
Commentary: (E) Quite often, when people are faced with a huge life-changing ordeal, such as cancer, many don’t find themselves returning to where they once started. It’s odd how Paul, a cancer patient finds his way back to surgery… surrounding himself with diseases, illnesses, etc. His return to the hospital won’t bring new beginnings which he so craves, but a continuous rut and giving into his quick approach of death.
“Paul died on Monday, March 9, 2015.” (Kalanithi 202)
Context: Because of Paul’s death, Lucy, Paul’s wife wrote the epilogue consisting of Paul’s final weeks surrounded by beloved.
Commentary: (C) An important realization of mine is death is thoughtfully enlightening, in the sense that often when death occurs to a friend, loved one, etc it impacts the way we continue to live our life. We learn to live and relish every given moment.. and don’t take anything for granted. But I, however, believe their is a hidden message in every tragedy we face, especially in respect to death. Moreover, nothing aids you to understand the brief beauty of life then death itself. Most importantly, loss and struggle hold the seeds for transformation, such power can shape you in the face of a misfortune.
“His world became smaller.” (Kalanithi 204)
“He turned toward me and whispered, “This might be how it ends.” (Kalanithi 206)
Context: To hear such a thing might be the hardest words ever spoken.
Commentary: (E) Passing. It’s not really the go-to theme of discussion with your coworkers following a monotonous day at the office. However, Lucy and family handled the situation with a great deal of integrity, from what the reader is exposed to. In any case, the vast majority of us go great lengths to refrain from discussing it, ever; with our friends and family that we should hand-on-heart trust that dying doesn’t really happen. We catch wind of it on the news, we see it routinely in the movies or read about it in New York Times. In any case, with regards to the ‘everydayness’ of death, a large portion of us would preferably run a mile than go up against the subject.
“The main message of Jesus, I believed, is that mercy trumps justice every time.” (Kalanithi 208)
Context: In the remaining days of his life, Dr. Kalanithi stubbornly investigated religion, the possibility of God, and the meaning of “truth.”
Commentary: (C) When Breath Becomes Air has definitely taught me very valuable lessons while reading. Such being, searching for truth will not always be easy, understand that knowledge is perpetual. Paul understood that the logical technique he had depended so vigorously upon, was the result of human personalities, “and consequently could not achieve some lasting truth.” As he battled with these greater inquiries throughout everyday life, he reasoned that while the hunt is vital, the assignment of discovering truth is unimaginable. Every one of us can just observe some portion of the photo. Like stated, “Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”
“Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: I can’t go on. I’ll go on” (Kalanithi 211)
Context: Writing enlivened Dr. Kalanithi, it helped him stay exhibit when the end was unavoidable. Samuel Beckett’s words were his comfort and his consolation.
Commentary: (R) It is quite encouraging how hard Paul continued to live even in the face of tragedy. Life can be more troublesome and extraordinary, however realizing that passing is approaching doesn’t mean you need to quit carrying on with your life. You can make the most out of your existence with the time you have.
“He was determined to keep writing.” (Kalanithi 214)
Context: Even at the beginning of his career, Paul always hoped to pursue writing. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he was firm about finishing this book, a story of him.
Commentary: (Q) It is quite aweing how determined Paul really was. Before his diagnosis and throughout schooling, he took on many tasks to the point where one may think it is inhumane. This leaves me to question, is how driven you are related to how you were raised? Paul came from a very successful family, with hard-work instilled in their blood; corresponding his morals to his home-life.
“What happened to Paul was tragic, but not a tragedy.” (Kalanithi 223)
Context: Lucy recalls what amazing times she shared with Paul, reflecting how rigorous he handled his illness.
Commentary: (E) Paul confronted the best preliminary of his life not with sharpness but rather with open weakness, delightful beauty, and bravery. It was his trustworthiness, that towards the end when demise was guaranteed, he didn’t wish to draw out the assurance of death, yet to pass away easily knowing he was adored by the ones he cherished and held dearest. He knew challenging death was close to impossible for him and he needed not to praise the outlandishness of his terminal sickness, however to portray what the excursion to “understanding demise and confronting mortality,” looked like for him both as a specialist who had seen it from the sidelines yet was presently dealing with it as a patient.
“Paul wondered about death—and whether he can face it with integrity. In the end, the answer was yes. I was his wife and a witness.”
Context: As the story comes to a close, his words live on and a gift to all.
Commentary: (R) While Paul’s passing has left a perpetual stamp on his family, his story influenced me as well. His story will impact you to think about and assess your life. It will rouse you to really understand existence past the screens of innovation but rather from someone who has experienced it from both perspectives. Paul’s words within the pages are bound to stick with me. As the book concluded, I started to grapple with self-definition as such theme has a level of poignancy enwrapped in the text.