Book review: When breath becomes air

I was driven less by achievement than by trying to understand, in earnest: What makes human life meaningful?

Hello! It has been a minute.

I had some time on my hands this week and I was able to read a book – When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi. It is a memoir (published posthumously) about his life and his battle with Lung cancer. At the time of his death, he was married to his wife Lucy (she wrote the last chapter) and they had a daughter.

At the time of his diagnosis, he was a resident of neurological surgery and was completing a postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience. It is an amazing book, one that left me feeling emotional.

The two parts of the book that stood out to me are below:

“If I had some sense of how much time I have left, it’d be easier. If I
had two years, I’d write. If I had ten, I’d get back to surgery and science”

No one is sure of how much time we have left on earth but some of us (myself included) act like we do. We are staying in jobs we do not enjoy, we date people for leisure and we do not think about the legacy we would like to leave behind. We all say YOLO when it is time to party but how often do we really think about it and apply it to all areas of life.

My mother, afraid the impoverished school system would hobble her children, acquired, from somewhere, a “college prep reading list.”

To this, I would say be responsible for your learning. Take an online course, read books, be curious. The growth that comes from this would last forever.

At the end of the day, do the things you dream of.

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