When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi

What will we do if we had one year to live? Will we still continue with our day jobs? What changes will we make to our life? Will the approaching end scare us or will it jolt us to live more fully? Will we pick up a hobby which has always been our passion but never had the time to indulge?

Maybe we never reflect on these things, because these are theoretical possibilities. But for Paul Kalanithi, this was not an abstract topic. Paul was towards the end of competing his decade long training of neurosurgery when he was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. He was 36 years old and life was full of possibilities when he was tragically given the death sentence.

Faced with his own mortality, Paul had to really think about what he wanted to do and how he wanted to live the remainder of his limited time. One of the things which I’m glad he did was write this book and was barely able to finish it in time.

In the book, he explores his self and motivations that shaped his life and brought him to where he was. His curiosity and desire to better understand the human condition were responsible for his love of literature and medicine. But we also witness how he grapples with the questions of meaning and purpose and the future.

However, Paul did not let the disease and the pain to take his love of life away from him. He doubled down on life. He lived a life full of purpose and continued to pursue his passions. He embraced life even during these circumstances and faced the inevitable end with courage and grace.

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