Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.
On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.
This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).
. . . . .
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.
Given his career, we probably wouldn’t expect anything less. He’s been a remarkable ambassador on the connections between medicine and the humanities for decades. A friend of mine once hosted him at her university for a series of lectures at the honors program she ran, and said that not only were his lectures and his meetings with students really smart and generous, but he also took a long walk with her on one of the days he was in town and talked over a career crisis she was having and offered a sympathetic ear as well as tremendously helpful advice.
Sacks is one of those people who remind us that generosity of spirit and the benefit of the doubt are almost always the right gesture. What a remarkable life and death.