Sunday, August 30, 2015

Rest in Peace, Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks died today. A great loss for the humanity. I have come to known about his writings from his various articles, haven't got the chance reading any of his books yet though came very close to reading his book on music titled Musicophilia (now regretting not reading it). In February of this year I'd read his article in The New York Times, a meditative writing coming to terms with his terminal illness. Here is a memorable snippet from that article:
"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, to die his own death."
Tonight after learning of his passing away, I have read two of his more recent articles. The first one is titled, "My Periodic Table" and the second one is "Sabbath". In both of these articles, Oliver Sacks confronts his terminal illness, but doing so also provides a sense of belonging in this universe, the peacefulness that is the core essence of every human being's spirituality.

Life is short. The overused cliched sentence that it flashes by too quick is very true. All these precious moments of ours, daily chores, work, family, love, relationships, the pursuit of wealth, longing for happiness, are what make us what we are. All the senseless enmity, violence, wars, political exploitation, endless greed and shrewd pettiness, seem so shallow in the face of very finite life. Oliver Sacks had great mind. Even facing death, when it was not an abstract concept anymore, he still pursued his passion in writing, reading science articles, playing piano, swimming, and living life as intensely as he could.

Here are a few beautiful segments of Oliver Sack's last articles. From My Periodic Table:
"At the other end of my table - my periodic table - I have a beautifully machined piece of beryllium (element 4) to remind me of my childhood and of how long ago my soon-to-end-life begun."
 From Sabbath:
"And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest."
Rest, Oliver Sacks. Rest in peace.

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