When Breath Become Air (Vintage)
Paul Kalanithi a neurosurgeon, began writing this book because he had always wanted to become a writer and finished it just before he died of cancer.
It was given to me for my birthday by another Nichiren Buddhist and so I assumed that it would be something relevant to my practice as a Buddhist. Fact is that the book made no reference to Buddhism but became the most appropriate book for me to read during one of my numerous times of questioning my own practice as a Buddhist.
When breath becomes Air covers the whole spectrum of life and is written by someone who started it when he was very much alive and finished by the same person as he was dying. The interesting point is that in both points of the scale from life to death the energy of the content and the way it was written was full of life, almost as if although the author was preparing for dying, there was no death, just an ending to his life in this dimension.
The book charts a life story of what seems to be a dedicated and gifted neurosurgeon who was on the precipice of a divorce, when, because of his crippling back pain discovers that he has untreatable cancer, which then pushes him into re- evaluating his life and having reunited with his wife, became a father six months before his death.
As he recounts his experiences as a brain surgeon, the reader gets an insight into his openess to the unknown which seems to become a matter of course for him, something which he accepts as a given, but transports the reader into an understanding that some events in his work were out of his hands and that life was not just a scientific phenomena.
It charts his dedication to saving lives, even as he was approaching his own death. A commitment he saw through until it was no longer possible for him to stand, so as he was dying, he was saving lives.
When Breath Becomes Air is a light and uplifting read. It is a book full of beauty, honesty and courage which left me feeling less frightened about death and at the same time, more committed to living and contributing to life, as a part of the human race.
(has anyone read this book? What are your thoughts? Lets begin a discussion)