The Meaning of Life in a Paragraph and a Book

I recently read the brainpickings article about the book “When Breath Becomes Air: A Young Neurosurgeon Examines the Meaning of Life as He Faces His Death”

The first paragraph of the article, beneath the quote from the book, is one of the most targeted and poignant statements on the subject of the human condition I have read in a long, long time. It encapsulates the essence of the “meaning of life” for me. It may be that I am more sensitive as I near my seventh decade, but it surely hit home! The section from the review and to which I refer is:

“All life is lived in the shadow of its own finitude, of which we are always aware — an awareness we systematically blunt through the daily distraction of living. But when this FINITUDE is made acutely imminent, one suddenly collides with awareness so acute that it leaves no choice but to Fill the shadow with as much light as a human being can generate — the sort of inner illumination we call meaning: the meaning of life.” [emphasis is mine]

The book has been very well received, but I have ordered it with mixed emotions. I am anticipating powerful insights, inspiration and guidance with the knowledge that I will be emotionally involved and perhaps burdened by the experience.

Visit the website to read the entire review of the book and if you order the book via that site, they receive a small commission.

You can read more about the book, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, at goodreads


It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?

Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends.

And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen.

We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has real special meaning:

People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.

To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.

We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary.

In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.

It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP.

When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.

When it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP,
so…….it is time to shut UP!

Now it’s UP to you what you do with this email.

Say What? The Penny Has Dropped!

There is an expression,the penny has dropped, that I became aware of recently and I had no idea what it meant. I know the expression,dropping a dime on someone (see below), but this was new to me. As in interested wordsmith, I went to Google to retrieve the answer.

It refers to someone realizing the situation they are currently in after it possibly eluded them for some time. You can find out the derivation of the phrase by checking out the link from the Urban Dictionary. Phrase evolution is very interesting indeed!

Dropping the Dime on Someone – At one time a telephone call cost ten cents. Dropping a dime refers to tattling on someone or revealing information about someone via a telephone call. Of course it no longer has to be via a telephone call. The phrase is not in popular contemporary use, but it is found in detective novels from time-to-time.

English Anguish

I don’t declare that I am a grammar expert and I do have to look up certain grammar rules from time-to-time. The difference is that I take that extra step and do the research.

I am not an official member of the grammar police even though there are certain violations of English grammar rules that annoy me.

The proper use of then and than, the differences between two, two and too and of course…



are most disconcerting!

Many people are confused about when to use commas, but as you can see (below) it is even more confusing when they are not used.


Credit where credit is due. Even though JBRish is pleased to present the above as infotainment, it is not original to us. These were originally presented as part of a BuzzFeed post. You can see all of their grammar gift recommendations by clicking here:

Factoid: Letter A Has a Number

Welcome readers of JBRish. We are trying something different and I hope you like it. I will ask a question below. Think about the answer and once you have thought about it, you can check it by clicking and dragging to select the spaces between the two rows of asterisks! I think you will be surprised.

Factoid: What number (numeral), starting from zero, would you have to write before it would use the letter ‘a’ (do not include the word ‘and’ in the number such as one hundred and one)?


one thousand


Don’t take my word for it, check it here: originally published this post

Words Worth – 20151102 (Epitaphs)

From time-to-time JBRish will post items under the heading of Words Worth that demonstrate the quirkiness, humor, beauty and flexibility of the English language.

To initiate this category of posts, what could be more fitting on the heels of Halloween than to present interesting epitaphs that are punny, witty or just plain humorous? I cannot verify that these are valid, but I think you will agree that they are indeed clever.

Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York:
Born 1903–Died 1942.

Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the
car was on the way down. It was.

In a Thurmont, Maryland:

Here lies an Atheist, all dressed up
and no place to go.

East Dalhousie, Nova Scotia:

Here lies Ezekial Aikle, Age 102.
Only the good die young.

London, England:

Here lies Ann Mann, who lived an old maid
but died an old Mann. Dec. 8, 1767

Ribbesford, England:

The children of Israel wanted bread,
And the Lord sent them manna.
Clark Wallace wanted a wife,
And the Devil sent him Anna.

Ruidoso, New Mexico:

Here lies Johnny Yeast.
Pardon him for not rising.

Uniontown, Pennsylvania:

Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake,
Stepped on the gas instead of the brake.

Silver City, Nevada:

Here lays The Kid,
We planted him raw.
He was quick on the trigger,
But slow on the draw.


Sir John Strange.
Here lies an honest lawyer,
and that is Strange.

Wimborne, England (John Penny’s Grave):

Reader, if cash thou art in want of any,
Dig 6 feet deep and thou wilt find a Penny.

Hartscombe, England:

On the 22nd of June,
Jonathan Fiddle went out of tune.

Enosburg Falls, Vermont:

Here lies the body of our Anna,
Done to death by a banana.
It wasn’t the fruit that laid her low,
But the skin of the thing that made her go.

Nantucket, Massachusetts:

Under the sod and under the trees,
Lies the body of Jonathan Pease.
He is not here, there’s only the pod,
Pease shelled out and went to God.


Remember man, as you walk by,
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so shall you be,
Remember this and follow me.

To which someone replied by writing on the tombstone:

To follow you I’ll not consent,
Until I know which way you went.