Friday, February 20, 2015


I was moved by "My Own Life," an op-ed piece by Oliver Sacks in yesterday's New York Times.  I have, of course, been aware of his work over the years, and have been inspired at times by his love of humanity in its sometimes weird and disturbing manifestations, by his humor, by the depth of his perception.  Now, it appears, he is approaching the end of his own life--and is doing so with his familiar zest for life, and with appropriate self-directed compassion.

One piece of wisdom in the article spoke to me particularly, was one who struggles with the feeling that I must somehow take responsibility for the troubles of the world.  "There is no time for anything inessential," Sacks wrote
I must focus on myself, my work and my friends.  I shall no longer look at "Newshour" every night.  I shall no longer pay attention to politics or arguments about global warming.  This is not indifference but detachment--I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future,  I rejoice when I meet gifted young people... [and] I feel the future is in good hands.
That's an elegant withdrawal, a beautiful expression of trust, and and an admirable optimism for the future of our species.  It's a kind of serenity I would do well to emulate.  Because, yes, even though I carry as yet no death sentence, as does Sacks, these things are already out of my hands.  I look to my children and my grandchildren, and wish them well.

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