Neil Tambe

Husband, Father, Citizen, Professional.

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

Imminent death

I finished When Breath Becomes Air in less than a day. Paul explores a courageous question - how to live in the face of imminent death. I can’t think of a book that’s more heartbreaking or universally important.

The lesson is simple: live your values. The way to live in the face of imminent death is to live your values.

This lesson has found me many times and in many packages of language in the past 10 years, most recently when Wyman visited Detroit this week.

It can be a hard lesson to put into practice, but that’s what makes Paul’s words gravely important and uncommonly brave - he puts this most uncomfortable truth front and center.

We are all imminently dying. Some of us just have reasons to be more acutely aware of it than others.

Living our values isn’t something we have a choice to put off until tomorrow, or even an hour from now. We are all imminently dying.

I think often about the song Five More Minutes. I know at the end of my life the only thing I will want is five more minutes with Robyn and our family. I know this unquestionably. We will not want - and Robyn and I talk about this often - five more minutes to work, five more minutes of TV, or fifty more dollars in our bank accounts.

What I didn’t quite understand until reading Paul’s words is that we can get those five extra minutes. It’s not that they are lost. But we can only get them up front, if we choose to live our values now, instead of five minutes from now.