“I had come to see language as an almost supernatural force, existing between people, bringing our brains shielded in centimetre-thick skulls into communication.”
Paul Kalanithi, WHEN BREATH BECOMES air
WHEN BREATH BECOMES air, Paul Kalanithi’s elegant mémoire about death and dying, is not only one of the finest works you will ever read, it’s one of the most important books on communication and engagement you will find. Its exploration of what it means to live authentically, to be fully human, and to embrace the world through language and communication is breathtaking and inspiring.
At a time when “content marketing” seems to have become a critical, albeit cliched item to include in the “deliverables” of strategic marketing/communications plans, Kalanithi reminds us that real communication is all about authentic connection. And, he does it beautifully.
Put down your devices — yes, all of them— and pick up this extraordinary book, the hard cover edition with its splendidly simple type-only cover (save for one small feather, almost a shadow, in the middle). Take the time for this book. Make yourself a cuppa tea, or brew coffee in your favourite cup. Mix a classic cocktail in a vintage glass. Pour a good wine into your best crystal stemware. Settle in.
When you’ve finished the book: from foreward to epilogue, make a resolution to make meaningful connections and to use language thoughtfully. Don’t worry about being liked, reposted, retweeted. Not everyone will care about what you have to say. Disregard them. At least for now. Focus on connecting with those who have similar views: your peeps, your pod, your tribe. In time, you’ll make connections with others, influence some and later, develop those allies and ambassadors. Who knows, some of that content? It just might reach and touch many people.
“I’m an infectious disease specialist, so please forgive me for not using the word viral as a metaphor.” Abraham Verghese, foreword, WHEN BREATH BECOMES air
L. Ink Etcetera