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Lost in his words: When Breath Becomes Air

I’m working hard right now. Hard to connect and feel connected. Hard to keep pushing towards my goals, a healthy life, betterment. Last night, I was looking for a book to read in the 1 hour I’m trying to “unplug” prior to bed. I felt restless with the stack on my nightstand and my wife Jenni suggested I pick up a book she had read a few months before. Why not. It was a #1 New York Times Bestseller and Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize so it had to be good.

I flipped through the first few pages, reading the forward by Abraham Verghese and came to this: words that grabbed me. Moved me. Somehow engulfing my thoughts far beyond even what this book might be trying to tell me.

Be ready. Be seated. See what courage sounds like. See how brave it is to reveal yourself in this way. But above all, see what it is to still live, to profoundly influence the lives of others after you are gone, by your words. In a world of asynchronous communication, where we are so often buried in our screens, our gaze rooted to the rectangular objects buzzing in our hands, our attention consumed by ephemera, stop and experience this dialogue with my young departed colleague, now ageless and extant in memory. Listen to Paul. In the silence between his words, listen to what you have to say back. Therein lies his message. I got it. I hope you experience it, too. It is a gift. Let me not stand in between you and Paul.

Abraham Verghese | Forward | When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air is the story of Dr. Paul Kalanithi. The New York Times wrote in 2016:

“When Dr. Paul Kalanithi sent his best friend an email in May 2013 revealing that he had terminal cancer, he wrote: “The good news is that I’ve already outlived two Brontës, Keats and Stephen Crane. The bad news is that I haven’t written anything.” It was a jokey way of dealing with the unthinkable but also an indication of Dr. Kalanithi’s tremendous ambition. He had led a fascinating life and was not about to leave it unchronicled.”

I cannot wait to dive in to these words. To live in that space between the lines. To receive the gift of his thoughts. Maybe you have read it? If not, maybe you should, like me, sit down each day and take it all in.

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