The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Jean-Dominique Bauby

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“But I see in the clothing a symbol of continuing life. And proof that I still want to be myself. If I must drool, I may as well drool on cashmere.”

“In one section are a score of comatose patients, patients at deaths door, plunged into endless night. They never leave their rooms. Yet everyone knows they are there, and they weigh strangely on our collective awareness, almost like a guilty conscience.”

“The city, that monster with a hundred mouths and a thousand ears, a monster that knows nothing but says everything, had written me off.”

Over the weekend I was really trying to be productive, however as per usual, the internet happened. I did however come across a list of “32 Books That Will Actually Change Your Life”. Yes, I know, it’s on BuzzFeed – but still interesting nonetheless. I decided to read the first book on their list (one that I had heard a lot about for many years) and go from there.

For those of you who haven’t heard of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby, it’s really quite a fascinating memoir. At forty-three-years-old, Bauby, the editor of French Elle magazine, suffered a horrible stroke that left him completely paralyzed. I mean completely. A once witty and outgoing man, Bauby now found himself unable to move anything, except his left eye. This memoir was written was composed by him blinking his left eye when his transcriber recited the letter he was looking for. Originally written in French, apparently the book took about 200,000 blinks to complete. Unfortunately it was published only two days before his death in 1996, so Bauby never really got to see how his poetic and endearing memoir would go on to become an international bestseller, and greatly impact many people across the world.

I can’t even imagine how anyone could remain so positive when their entire life is taken away from them unexpectedly in a matter of minutes. This beautifully written memoir truly is a reminder of how special life is, and how we must do our best to appreciate every moment we have with the ones we love. Bauby reminds us to stop and smell the roses, to not sweat the small stuff, to make time for people and not things, and he does it in such a sweetly sardonic way that as a reader I felt torn between savoring every page, and devouring the whole thing in one sitting.

Lovely. Just lovely.

xo.

OMPP

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