When You Can’t Go On

Samuel Beckett’s seemingly paradoxical line: “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” Paul Kalanithi quotes it in When Breath Becomes Air, his haunting and moving book about facing his cancer diagnosis and eventual death. What does it mean? Exactly what you think.

We say to ourselves many times in life, “I can’t go on like this.” Of course we can. We must. We shall. We will. There’s no other choice anyway. And what do you find when you do? The Stoics say: You find you had capacity you couldn’t even fathom.