Paul Kalanithi on the Source of Human Knowledge

 

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Paul Kalanithi. Via: (paulkalanithi.com)

 

“In the end, it cannot be doubted that each of us can see only a part of the picture. The doctor sees one, the patient another, the engineer a third, the economist a fourth, the pearl diver a fifth, the alcoholic a sixth, the cable guy a seventh, the sheep farmer an eight, the Indian beggar a ninth, the pastor a tenth. Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationship we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete. And Truth comes somewhere above all of them, where, as at the end of that Sunday’s reading.

the sower and reaper can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that “One sows and another reaps.” I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

Pulled from Paul Kalanithi‘s eloquently crafted memoir When Breath Becomes Air (Public Library). 

Kalanithi’s lung cancer tragically cut short his life. He was only thirty seven when he inhaled and released one last, deep, final breath in the room not too far from where his only daughter, Cady Kalanithi, was born eight months before. It was also the same hospital where he was trained to be a neurosurgeon. In that hospital, he had faced the death of his patients and eventually his. The excruciating pain of his cancer did not deter his vitality from writing this book. He wrote this book because of his cancer and despite of it. This memoir is not just a collection of words and pages. At its core, this is a story of what courage looks like. This is a story of how a man of inexhaustible energy had to commune with his own mortality.

Before he was diagnosed with cancer, Kalanithi knew someday he would eventually die, but he did not know when. After he realized that the cancer had invaded his multiple organ systems, he knew that his “lease” in this world would end really soon, but once again, he did not know when. In those uncertain moments, Kalanithi had lived gracefully and courageously.

 

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Paul Kalanithi. Photograph by Norbert von der Groeben. Via: (The New Yorker)

 

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Dr. Paul Kalanithi with his wife, Lucy, and their daughter. Via: (nytimes)

 

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