Oliver Sacks about life, death and the meaning of




Six months ago, one of the most famous neuroscientists and psychologists of our time, learned about the fatal diagnosis. Oliver Sacks is no more, but his observations of himself, standing on the threshold of death, affect the peace and thoroughness. As he once listened to the inner world of his patients, he now has recorded the movements of his soul.

Website has found his column written for The New York Times. A wise man!



"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. 9 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 gratitude for the 9 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. On 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 was lucky that I lived for 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 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 faithful: "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 10 years, I'm 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. Such as we are no longer. 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 communicated 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 & quot ;.



See also
What 25-year-old cry
20 tests, after which you will become a different person
20 things you should know in 20 years

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