With tears in my eyes and heavy heart I finished this book “When Breath becomes Air” by Late Dr. Paul Kalanithi!
Generally people read books for pleasure, time pass, information, but this book tells us how life can be uncertain and unpredictable. It is sort of an Autobiography of a well-educated highly proficient doctor whose life was turned upside down with just one diagnosis- terminal illness! It is true every obstacle small or big that comes across our way molds and shapes us better, they are many a times we question God, why me? What did we do to deserve this? Am I that bad? And convince ourselves saying fate, or by saying God chose us because we have the strength to handle this better than anyone and it’s always for the better!! Though these are very skeptical answers.
Dr. Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer when he was apparently 34. Post that, every step he took to face life and death was extremely courageous, and shows his strong will power -to continue to be a neurosurgeon, managing 7/8 hours of strenuous surgeries in spite of his body fatigue, planned to have a baby, to write a best seller. The way he faced mortality is unimaginable! An amazing lady behind him Lucy, who was as strong as her husband, had supported him during the toughest time, finished the book as he was not alive to write the last chapter wherein she describes the somber situation around his death. That made me think there are many things happening around us, especially many sufferings which we can’t even imagine!
Death knocks everyone’s door at some part of life – unexpected death is a sudden blow to the family, for the person who dies it’s momentary. But when someone knows his due date and has to live till the date is something more painful than the death itself and it needs immense courage to face it! Paul, being a neurosurgeon himself, had seen death every day, but when he knew his days were numbered, he was contemplating whether to be a doctor or to be a patient and listen to his doctor, quickly analyze every test of his own and relate to what he would be telling his patient if such a situation arrives and started to plan his remaining days on earth.
But what I liked most was his decision to live a FULLFILLED LIFE till the last day! Instead of making a bucket list, he decided to write a book about his journey when the tumor kept growing inside him. His love for poetry and quoting of beautiful verses of TS Eliot to his thoughts makes the reader wonder why such a person was tested with a life threatening diseases!
Science and technology has improved in all walks of life, cosmos can explain how universe came into existence, how many galaxies exist and question how and when God came into existence rebuilding the past in books. The future prediction which was in astrologers hands earlier has now become very advanced with data analytics. For instance given the right set of data, there are techniques that can predict, what kind of person/you are, what you like/what you don’t like, and choice of buying, fashion and so on. Can these analytics also predict how long I would live?Since my genealogy has average life expectancy of 70, I can expect to live until 70, * terms and conditions applied!!
NO DATA HAS EVER PREDICTED THE DEATH DAY OF ANYONE!!
Though science proudly claims everything is measurable and it’s all mathematical and everything can be fixed and understood by research. May be my knowledge in these are limited But I have one simple question, can love, affection, kindness, hatred, emotions, birth & death be measured in numbers?
Why do you empathize for man you don’t know, have never seen!? By just reading his book, you mourn for his death! Is that the power of his writing? Or are we all naturally sympathetic towards a young person’s death?
Being an agnostic, I question myself, is it true some force exist which plays puppet!!
It’s just that we do not have answers for everything. And we are not smart enough to find that as well! Nature has many untold mysteries, those cannot be dealt with our knowledge of mathematics and science!
Dr. Paul Kalanithi knew what was coming and he accepted it gracefully. His book has brought a different dimension to my thoughts. I am not asking for an immortal world, I wish we all learn the simple fact that life is uncertain anything can happen to anyone at any time. In the meantime let us shed our pride and greediness and shower love and affection to every creature around us!
Live and let live!