Posts Tagged ‘Oliver Sachs’

Powerful Words from Dr. Oliver Sacks

Friday, February 20th, 2015
An Inspiration

An Inspiration

Every now and again, we have to stop work, look up from our desks and take stock of what is important. The op-ed written by Dr. Oliver Sacks in yesterday’s New York Times┬ácalls us to do exactly that, as Dr. Sacks shared that he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Oliver Sacks, M.D. is a professor of neurology at New York University School of Medicine and a prolific author. I have read many of his books: Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, An Anthropologist on Mars, Oaxaca Journal, The Island of the Colorblind, and Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood. His book, Awakenings, was made into a movie starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams. As Dr. Sacks lives in Brooklyn, I was able to attend one of his local lectures, at which time he kindly autographed each of a dozen or so of his books I brought with me, one copy for me and one for my dad.

Dr. Sacks’ words are always inspiring: whether he is explaining the neuroscience of autism or learning how geographically isolated communities in the Pacific came to have high numbers of color-blind people, he provides insight into the human condition. In his world, our limitations become our unique gifts. The empathy he expressed for his patients makes us long for a time in medical practice when the family physician knew and cared for us as individuals. What I found so powerfully moving about his op-ed was the honest way he confronted the knowledge that he is approaching the time of his death, that he expressed compassion for himself, just as he had done for others, and that what he predominantly felt at this point in his life was profound gratitude – for everything. After reading his words, I felt gratitude, too, for Dr. Sacks’ generosity in sharing his experience with all of us.