Commonplaces: When Breath becomes Air

This whole book was really beautifully written. Kalanithi double majored in English literature and human biology at Stanford and got his master’s degree in literature before going on to Yale medical school. He had always planned on spending his older years as a writer, and when he found out he was dying, he took his final opportunity to write. I loved reading his poetic descriptions of everyday life and his thoughtful reflections on significance and meaning.

The ocean stirsthe heart, inspiresthe imagination& brings eternaljoy to the soul (1)

“Books became my closest confidants, finely ground lenses providing new views of the world.”

***

“In the east, the full light of day beamed toward you; to the west, night reigned with no hint of surrender. No philosopher can explain the sublime better than this, standing between day and night. It was as if this were the moment God said, “Let there be light!” You could not help but feel your specklike existence against the immensity of the mountain, the earth, the universe, and yet still feel your own two feet on the talus, reaffirming your presence amid the grandeur.”

***

“A word meant something only between two people, and life’s meaning, its virtue, had something to do with the depth of the relationships we form.”

***

“Science may provide the most useful way to organize empirical, reproducible data, but its power to do so is predicated on its inability to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, envy, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue. Between these core passions and scientific theory, there will always be a gap. No system of thought can contain the fullness of human experience.”

***

“…knowing that even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living.”

***

“..maybe the basic message of original sin isn’t ‘Feel guilty all the time.’ Maybe it is more along these lines: ‘We all have a notion of what it means to be good, and we can’t live up to it all the time.’ Maybe that’s what the message of the New Testament is, after all. Even if you have a notion as well defined as Leviticus, you can’t live that way.”

***

“What happened to Paul was tragic, but he was not a tragedy.”

 

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