When Breath Becomes Air, a memoir, written by Paul Kalanithi takes us through the life of a cancer patient. The struggles and the determination he has to live a meaningful life. You can read the book summary here.
Below are some of the quotes we extracted from the book.
“You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.” – Paul Kalanithi
“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.”
“even if I’m dying, until I actually die, I am still living.”
“Everyone succumbs to finitude. I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.”
It never occurred to me that you could love someone the same way after he was gone, that I would continue to feel such love and gratitude alongside the terrible sorrow, the grief so heavy that at times I shiver and moan under the weight of it.” – Lucy Kalanithi
“I don’t believe in the wisdom of children, nor in the wisdom of the old. There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of the living. We are never so wise as when we live in the moment.”
“If the unexamined life was not worth living, was the unlived life worth examining?”
“What patients seek is not scientific knowledge that doctors hide but existential authenticity each person must find on her own. Getting too deeply into statistics is like trying to quench a thirst with salty water. The angst of facing mortality has no remedy in probability.”
“Death, so familiar to me in my work, was now paying a personal visit.”
“With what strife and pains we come into the world we know not, but ’tis commonly no easy matter to get out of it.”
When you come to one of the many moments in life when you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy unknown to me in all my prior years, a joy that does not hunger for more and more, but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing.