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Friday, February 20, 2015

Oliver Sacks is dying of cancer, and he has written a powerful essay for the NYT. It is frank, and poignant, and inspiring. These words especially spoke to me:

"I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.

Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."

There's so much beauty and truth in Sack's words. As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate more the wisdom and poetry in other people's musings about the meaning of life. One of my favorite passages is from Michael Ondaatje's "The English Patient":

“We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves."

Each human life is truly precious; what our hearts are capable of feeling and our minds capable of communicating are truly profound. It's hard not to marvel at how humans can touch each other. Today I've had time to miss my Dad, who we lost long ago, and to worry over my ex-boss, who is battling advanced cancer, and to mourn a beloved colleague who succumbed to cancer almost a year ago. I've been thinking about the meaning of life, and Oliver Sacks' essay perfectly articulated what I hope I will feel when it is my time to look back and take stock.
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  • BUTTONPOPPER1
    Thank you for pointing out this essay, which I've just read at the NYTimes website. I agree that is is powerful and moving and that Oliver Sacks has a beautiful attitude toward life and death. It sounds as if he has lived very fully, and that he will live even more intensely now that his time is so limited.

    Remember the old "values" hypothetical exercise where you're asked to make plans about what you would do if you were told you had only a year left to live? I don't know about you, but that exercise had absolutely no effect on me, because I knew I had my whole life before me (or strongly thought so). I would always just write down a few trite things, like travel the world or take a ride in a helicopter. But wouldn't such REAL news bring everything suddenly into sharp focus? I don't want to have only a year left to live, but I would love to have the clarity of mind that such a prognosis would bring! I guess you can't have your cake and eat it, too. (Oops, sorry to mention cake when you're doing low carb.)
    2251 days ago
  • GOLDENRODFARM
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    2251 days ago
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