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Oliver Sacks in Reflection on Life

oliver sacks terminal cancer 2

I read this NY Times op-ed last week by neurologist, writer and professor Oliver Sacks, who recently learned he has terminal cancer. I found this part of his essay incredibly moving:

My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. 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.

It’s nice to remember to look at life this way, sometimes. (: You may read the full op-ed here, if you’d like.

P.S. Related: on accepting change, doing what you love and embracing life.

{Photo via Nichvlas}

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Ashleyl February 24, 2015, 9:05 pm

    What a beautiful perspective! Thank you for sharing xo

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