Died August 30, Oliver Sachs - one of the most famous neurologists of our time, the author of the bestseller "The man who took his wife for a hat." The site publishes a column written by Sachs six months ago, when he learned that his illness - smertelno.
«A month ago, I thought , that my health is good, even the strong. I'm 81, but I still swim a mile a day. But my luck ran out. A few weeks ago I found out that my liver multiple metastases.
Nine years ago, it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye. Because lasers and radiation therapy in which a tumor was removed, I eventually blind in one eye. In my case, the probability that the tumor metastasis let his eyes, was small - but I had no luck.
I feel grateful for the first nine years of healthy and productive life after initial diagnosis, but today I am face to face with death. Cancer has absorbed a third of my liver, and although its spread can be slowed down, it can not be stopped.
I have to figure out how to live my remaining months. I have to live them the richest, deepest, most productive way. In this I am inspired by the words of one of my favorite philosopher David Hume, who in 65 years to learn that the terminally ill, wrote a short autobiography. He took it one day in April 1776. He called it "My Life».
"I suffered a little from his illness, and, more curiously, despite the strong exhaustion, my composure for a minute did not leave me - wrote Hume. - I've kept the same passion for science, the same liveliness of society, as in the past ».
I'm lucky that I have lived more than 80 years, 15 years longer Hume, and the years have been as rich in terms of work and love. During this time I published five books and finished the autobiography (it is longer, than a few pages of Hume), which will be published this spring. And I almost finished a few more books.
"I - continues to Hume - different nature gentleness, self-control, open, sociable and cheerful disposition, the ability to bind, inability to feed hatred and great moderation in all passions».
Here I differ from Hume. Although I enjoyed warm relations and friendship, I have no real enemies, I can not say that I am a quiet man. On the contrary, I'm a pretty combative, I often cover violent attacks of enthusiasm and full of excesses in all of my hobbies.
Yet one line of Hume's essay seems to me remarkably true: «It's hard to be less attached to life than I am now».
Over the past few days, I could see my life as if from a great height, as the landscape, and deepened in me a sense of connectedness of all its components. This does not mean that life is over for me. On the contrary, I feel very alive and I want and hope for the remaining time to achieve even more profound friendship, to say goodbye to all those who love to write something else, to travel, if you have enough strength to reach new levels of understanding and meaning.
This will require boldness, clarity and directness of speech. I will have to make clear in my relationship with the world. But I have time and fun (and even something stupid).
I suddenly feel the focus and see the future. No time for anything non-essential. I have to focus on yourself, my work and my friends. I will not watch the news at night. I will not waste their attention on policies or debates about global warming.
It is not indifference, and lack of affection: I remain deeply concerned about the situation in the Middle East, global warming, growing inequality. But this is no longer my thing - these things belong to the future. I admire, when I meet talented young people - even those who have done me the biopsy and diagnosed me. I feel that the future - in good hands.
In the last ten years I attentive to the death of my contemporaries. My generation is on the way to the exit, and each death seemed like a precipice, cutting off part of yourself. like us, is no more. But never, and like you. When people die, they will not be replaced. They leave holes that can not be filled because the fate - and the genetic and neural - every human being is to become a unique individual, find your way to live his own life, to die a natural death.
I can not pretend to be fearless. But my main feeling - thanks. I loved and was loved. I have been given much, and I gave something back. I have read, I traveled, thinking and writing. I communicate with the world, as only communicate writers and readers.
And most importantly, I was an intelligent being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and this in itself was a tremendous privilege and a great adventure.