Oliver Sacks and the power of his words.

I read that Oliver Sacks died yesterday. I am aware many people might not know who he was. He was a neurologist and a writer. He became sick and died. He was aware this was about to happen. I read he was still playing piano, swimming and writing to his friends when life slipped away.
I am aware some of my scientist friends might feel he is too much of a media person.
I, on the other hand, am grateful for the words that I have read through my life that came from his books. Books that could be read by people like me. People who were not neurologists:)
I remember that when I suddenly could play piano better than I ever could before… Just after I lost neurones I thought about his book musicology.
I remember that when I could not even draw a clock to Dr. Getulio I thought about another one of his books.
I remember that when I could not recognise the keyboard, nor see things in front of me I thought about “the man who mistook his wife for an umbrella”.
So, I searched for his last article. I had read it months ago. I was moved than…   It is so beautiful….it is called “my own life”.
You don,t have to be a doctor to understand it. It is about life. His life.
So I share his and Hume’s words.
With love,
jules

My Own Life

Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer

 
HANNA BARCZYK
By OLIVER SACKS
FEBRUARY 19, 2015

A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. The radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye. But though ocular melanomas metastasize in perhaps 50 percent of cases, given the particulars of my own case, the likelihood was much smaller. I am among the unlucky ones.

I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.

It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can. In this I am encouraged by the words of one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, who, upon learning that he was mortally ill at age 65, wrote a short autobiography in a single day in April of 1776. He titled it “My Own Life.”

“I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution,” he wrote. “I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company.”