Friday, December 16, 2016

Gratitude by Oliver Sacks

I've had this audiobook on my ipod for some time and decided that I would listen on my commute into work. It's hard to commute when there are tears in your eyes and an ache in your chest.

The audiobook is about 40 minutes long and covers four of Sacks' essays about his mortality. After he was diagnosed with cancer that had metastasized to his liver he began writing these essays.

Mercury is the first one and it's his reflection on turning 80. My Own Life is after learning he has cancer and his time is short.

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.

My Periodic Table is next and he contemplates turning 82 with knowing he will not see another birthday.


Auden used to say that one should always celebrate one’s birthday, no matter how one felt

Lastly is Sabbath and that is my favorite. He writes of growing up in England in an Orthodox Jewish community. How everyone stops working on the Sabbath and appreciates the people around them. He writes of turning away from the faith when his mother calls him an abomination for being gay. It was a moving piece.


“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.” ― Oliver Sacks, Gratitude



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