Paul Kalanithi

“The funny thing about time in the OR, whether you race frenetically or proceed steadily, is that you have no sense of it passing. If boredom is, as Heidegger argued, the awareness of time passing, then surgery felt like the opposite: the intense focus made the arms of the clock seem arbitrarily placed. Two hours could feel like a minute. Once the final stitch was placed and the wound was dressed, normal time suddenly restarted. You could almost hear an audible whoosh.” (note: describing health)

“In English, we use the word time in different ways: “The time is two forty-five” versus “I’m going through a tough time.” These days, time feels less like a ticking clock and more like a state of being. As a surgeon, focussed on a patient in the OR, I might have found the position of the clock’s hands arbitrary, but I never thought them meaningless. Now the time of day means nothing, the day of the week scarcely more…. Graham Greene once said that life was lived in the first twenty years and the remainder was just reflection. So what tense am I living in now? Have I progressed beyond the present tense and into the past perfect? The future tense seems vacant, and on others’ lips, jarring.” (note: near death)

When Breath Becomes Air (2016)

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