A Blog About An Asian Medical Student. Yes that's redundant.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

To Breathe

To Breathe

A great man died today.

As a man who spent years of his life in an iron lung, he is a man who showed me the value of life.

A man who, quite literally, fought for every breath.

And, quite wholeheartedly, made every breath count.

Stricken with polio at a very young age, through sheer will and perseverance did this man choose to live, determined to not only survive, but to live another day, another moment, another heart beat...

…another breath.

Though we can only imagine the ordeal it was for him to solely exist, it was in his passion to do more than simply that, where he found love, started a family, and drove forward a phenomenal career.

By the time modern medicine caught up with his desire to overcome the restraints of his health, this now quadraplegic man developed, and mastered, a method in which to breathe that was powered not by human technology, but sheer human will.

"Frog breathing" he called it, as he consciously focused on swallowing air in gulps, his body torn by disease not allowing the automatization gifted to the healthy. Where he forwent machinations that previously kept him alive, he showed us all through dogged determination why the human heart is the irreplaceable engine of possibility.

He used that term to describe me in a reference letter before. Dogged determination. At the time, I considered it a privilege to be acknowledged by him in such a manner - now, in light of realizing his own example set, I know it was an honour.

Because you see, his career was both begot and subsequently devoted to finding opportunity where others see none. Not in earnest naivety, not in blind optimism, but pure faith in the ability of people to be better, and create what will be better.

By the time I knew him, on top of being beloved husband and devoted father, he had lived lives as professor, PhD, politician, businessman, mentor, and the Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship.

Because of this fact, technically, he is my faculty advisor, who shaped my future career plans irrevocably for the betterment of health care.

In light of this impact, I feel, those who know him, will always be mindful of his most powerful life:


He lived as an inspiration.

In the years I have known him, in the lessons I have learned from him, in the challenges I faced with him, I would need only to look to him,

see him gasp for air,

spend every conscious moment savouring each breath,

and watch him do it again,

to know that every breath is a blessing, and every opportunity has potential.

In his unwavering faith in people, he inspired me to live. Truly live.

Right now, I hope to articulate what his inspiration was to me:

The binds of the body can never be the bonds of the spirit.

A great man died today.

A great life endured.

- David