“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.”
Oliver Sacks (1933-2015)
Yesterday, the world lost Oliver Sacks, a physician, an author, a professor, and a motorcycle enthusiast. Interested in understanding the innerworkings of humans, specifically the mystery that is the human brain, he examined and shared some of the most intriguing case histories I have ever read. The above quote is an excerpt from a piece Sacks wrote for The New York Times to reflect on finding out he had terminal cancer. As a person who finds people fascinating, I enjoyed reading Sack’s books, all of which focus on the particularities of the human brain and all of which show the person behind the condition. How he spent his last months is how we should all spent our time: deepening relationships, traveling, writing, and being silly. You don’t need to find out you have terminal illness to start following Sack’s example. “Be [the] unique individual” he believed we all strive to be and engage with the world around in a meaningful way.