Author and neurologist, Oliver Sacks passed away over the weekend at the age of 82. A remarkable thinker and a beautiful soul, he wrote the following after finding out that he was terminally ill with cancer:
I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. 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.
I couldn’t say that I agreed with all of Oliver’s ideas, even some within this quote, but it’s still a wonderful reminder that we are each unique individuals and we have much to be grateful for.
And if my life can have half the impact of this irreplaceable man, I will have done well.
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