Best 12 quotes in «when breath becomes air quotes» category

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    I still had a lot of practical medicine to learn, but would knowledge alone be enough, with life and death hanging in the balance? Surely intelligence wasn't enough; moral clarity was needed as well. Somehow, I had to believe, I would gain not only knowledge but wisdom, too.

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    Lucy and I both felt that life wasn’t about avoiding suffering. Years ago, it had occurred to me that Darwin and Nietzsche agreed on one thing: the defining characteristic of the organism is striving.

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    Struggle toward the capital-T Truth, but recognize that the task is impossible—or that if a correct answer is possible, verification certainly is impossible. 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 eighth, the Indian beggar a ninth, the pastor a tenth. 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. 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.

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    The Servant Song” while standing side by side in a church pew, and the words vibrated with meaning as we faced uncertainty and pain together: “I will share your joy and sorrow / Till we’ve seen this journey through.” - Lucy Kalanithi

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    Students no longer had to bring their own bodies, for starters, as they did in the nineteenth century. And medical schools had discontinued their support of the practice of robbing graves to procure cadavers - that looting itself a vast improvement over murder, a once common means enough to warrant its own verb: *burke*, which the OED defines as "to kill secretly by suffocation or strangulation, or for the purpose of selling the victim's body for dissection.

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    The problem, however, eventually became evident: to make science the arbiter of metaphysics is to banish not only God from the world but also love, hate, meaning—to consider a world that is self-evidently not the world we live in. That’s not to say that if you believe in meaning, you must also believe in God. It is to say, though, that if you believe that science provides no basis for God, then you are almost obligated to conclude that science provides no basis for meaning and, therefore, life itself doesn’t have any. In other words, existential claims have no weight; all knowledge is scientific knowledge. Yet the paradox is that scientific methodology is the product of human hands and thus cannot reach some permanent truth. We build scientific theories to organize and manipulate the world, to reduce phenomena into manageable units. Science is based on reproducibility and manufactured objectivity. As strong as that makes its ability to generate claims about matter and energy, it also makes scientific knowledge inapplicable to the existential, visceral nature of human life, which is unique and subjective and unpredictable. Science may provide the most useful way to organize empirical, reproducible data, but its power to do so is predicated on its inability to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, envy, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue.

    • when breath becomes air quotes
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    then we all took time turns weeping, studying Paul’s face and each other’s with concern, steeped in the preciousness and pain of this time, our last hours all together. - Lucy Kalanithi

    • when breath becomes air quotes
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    Always the seer is a sayer,” Emerson wrote. “Somehow his dream is told; somehow he publishes it with solemn joy.” Writing this book was a chance for this courageous seer to be a sayer, to teach us to face death with integrity. - Lucy Kalanithi

    • when breath becomes air quotes
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    I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” - Samuel Beckett

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    As in most modern narratives, a character’s fate depended on human actions, his and others. King Lear’s Gloucester may complain about human fate as “flies to wanton boys,” but it’s Lear’s vanity that sets in motion the dramatic arc of the play. From the Enlightenment onward, the individual occupied center stage. But now I lived in a different world, a more ancient one, where human action paled against superhuman forces, a world that was more Greek tragedy than Shakespeare. No amount of effort can help Oedipus and his parents escape their fates; their only access to the forces controlling their lives is through the oracles and seers, those given divine vision. What I had come for was not a treatment plan—I had read enough to know the medical ways forward—but the comfort of oracular wisdom.

    • when breath becomes air quotes
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    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.

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    I expected to feel only empty and heartbroken after Paul died. 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. Paul is gone, and I miss him acutely nearly every moment, but I somehow feel I’m still taking part in the life we created together. “Bereavement is not the truncation of married love,” C. S. Lewis wrote, “but one of its regular phases—like the honeymoon. What we want is to live our marriage well and faithfully through that phase too.” Caring for our daughter, nurturing relationships with family, publishing this book, pursuing meaningful work, visiting Paul’s grave, grieving and honoring him, persisting…my love goes on—lives on—in a way I’d never expected. - Lucy Kalanithi

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