Schrödinger’s Disease and the Introvert

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This book by Paul Kalanithi was published posthumously, after he passed away from metastatic lung cancer. The book was written as he was dying from the disease and his narrative includes scenes from his early, formative years, as well as his excruciating descent into pain, debilitation and surprisingly, the joys of fatherhood. He was only thirty-five and his death deprived this world of everything else that he might have contributed, had he lived longer. Kalanithi was one of those rare people who really could have been anything he wanted to be when he grew up. Most of us are told this myth while we’re growing up (I can be an NBA player?) and most of us lack the talent (but I can’t dribble without accidentally kicking the ball) and/or lack the prerequisites (I’m only 5’3″ on a good day) and/or lack the discipline to make the dream a reality (Practice? Nah, rather read a book).

At the time of his death, Kalanithi was a highly skilled neurosurgeon and scientist. Prior to deciding to train in medicine, he obtained advanced degrees in the humanities, earning a Masters in English Literature from Standford and a M.Phil in the history and philosophy of science and medicine from Cambridge. Despite all of his achievements, he remained humble, recognizing how weak we are in the face of the overwhelming entropy of the universe. The only solace in losing such a talented and thoughtful person is that he was able to accomplish more in his short thirty-five years than most of us achieve in a lifetime. Still, what a waste.

Throughout the book, the author quotes widely from luminaries who had thought deeply about life, death, and whatever little meaning we can derive from these experiences. But they pontificated from a safe distance. Kalanithi’s words have greater immediacy and pathos because the Grim Reaper was right there at his side, informing the creative process.

I have some small experience in sharing space with the Grim Reaper, so I was struck by Kalanithi’s observation that cancer left one in a state of both knowing and not knowing. In his case, he knew he was terminal, but he had no idea how much time he had left. Because he simultaneously knew and didn’t know, this made decisions about how to spend his remaining time extremely difficult. Cancer, then, is Schrödinger’s disease. Continue reading “Schrödinger’s Disease and the Introvert”

Schrödinger’s Disease and the Introvert

Introvert Wants a Haka

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Bucket lists can achieve grand proportions for introverts who live rich inner lives. Before completing Soul Search, I used to think that the pinnacle of success would be an invitation to appear at a Comicon. After some time to think  about this, I have now come to the conclusion that Soul Search needs to hit it big in New Zealand. I desperately want a haka performed in my honor.

The haka is a traditional ancestral ritual from the Maori of New Zealand. War haka (peruperu) were performed for the purposes of intimidation before battle. Warriors would proclaim their strength and prowess through highly synchronized and stylized actions, facial contortions and chants. When performed as the ancestors intended, this display is a thing of beauty and raw power. The haka was popularized by New Zealand’s rugby team, the All Blacks, starting in 1888 when the New Zealand Native team first toured the home nations of the United Kingdom and the Haka was introduced as a pre-game tradition. This tradition persists and the All Blacks have an impressive repertoire of hakas documented. Seriously, click the link and watch the video before continuing to read. I’ve developed a mild haka obsession and I have a growing collection of videos from the internet that I will share with you below, so now is a good time to acclimate.

In modern times, the haka ritual is performed for various reasons, including welcoming distinguished guests, acknowledging great achievements, or celebrating and marking occasions like weddings, funerals and homecomings. The haka is a way to express collective emotions. In 2016, New Zealand firefighters honored the victims of 9/11 with a powerful haka. When three New Zealand soldiers fell during battle in Afghanistan, the 2nd and 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment performed a haka during the funeral procession as a moving tribute to their fallen comrades.

Most haka are performed by men, but there exist some that are performed predominantly by women. After viewing many, many hakas, I have come to the realization that I am not cut out to contribute to a performance. Aside from the introvert’s limited ability to join group participation events, history has taught me that I simply lack the coordination to pull this off. Properly executed, the haka harmonizes the mental, physical and emotional states of individuals and contributes to the shifting of the tectonic plates underlying New Zealand. I hypothesize that hakas may induce seismic disruptions.

I will reiterate that my most fervent wish is to have a haka performed in my honor due to the crazy success of Soul Search in New Zealand. To make this dream come true, I would like to start the process of overwhelming the descendents of the Maori with my literary skill by offering a free eBook to the first ten readers from New Zealand to respond. If any readers of this blog are from New Zealand or if you know anyone from this country, please have them contact me for their free book at reynafavis@gmail.com. If you can, please share this post, so it can maybe make it to New Zealand. Gotta start somewhere…

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If you would like to comment on anything in these posts, I would be delighted to hear from you. Please also visit my author’s website at www.reynafavis.com to find out about upcoming personal appearances and works in progress.

Soul Search is available for purchase on Amazon.

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Introvert Wants a Haka