Monday, February 23, 2015

Oliver Sacks

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One day I will have to live in a world without Oliver Sacks in it. That day is a lot closer than I thought, from the op-ed post he wrote for the New York Times. It saddens me as he was one of the first psychologists whose work I read, long before I majored in psychology. I read Musicophilia somewhere around my senior year of high school when I was taking AP psych but planning on being a music educator. I read and watched Awakenings and sobbed. I still have The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat waiting to be read and wanted to buy his newer release The Mind's Eye for a while now. The time to do these things is soon.

I love the humanity of Sacks, the way he talks and thinks about people. It's really poetic and beautiful. The way in which he speaks about his own death in such terms is no less beautiful but certainly very heartbreaking.

This is another sign to me how fast the world is spinning. Already I've been at my new job a month. It has been nearly two years since I graduated from college. I am a far different person than I was just a year ago. The world around me feels like a different place and I'm seeing in it with different eyes, experiencing it with brilliant wonderful people, some I knew before, some new and very welcome to my life. I have advanced romantically further than I ever expected already this year, with great happiness and bittersweetness. I have lost someone again, a Facebook friend I didn't know well but a musician I had played with back in high school. Her death is a shock to me because she is younger than my parents and someone whose death I never thought I'd see in memorials across my Facebook page. I feel old and young, knowledgeable and naive, experienced and oh so unprepared. This, I think, is the average state of living - a continual paradox of getting it and not having a clue.

I don't look forward to living in a world without Oliver Sacks. But a world without loss, without change, is not one I am in nor can understand. Loss is a large part of life. But so too is living it. The most one can do is learn to live with a sort of flexibility and grace, learning to accept defeat with a certain poise, to keep confidence in fighting when the battle isn't over, and to keep on thinking and breathing and believing when that static ennui of being rolls over. Oliver Sacks somehow manages to achieve all of these in his reflection on his own mortality, an amazing feat that should be lauded, because it certainly isn't easy. While all things end, his words continue on and keep people thinking and trying and hoping. And that's amazing.

[Apparently I'm feeling really metaphysical today. It's nice to have my brain running like this again - I missed it.]

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