Page 1 of 2 [ 27 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

tall-p
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Dec 2010
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,222

21 Feb 2015, 7:30 pm

A MONTH ago, I felt that I was in good health, even robust health. At 81, I still swim a mile a day. But my luck has run out — a few weeks ago I learned that I have multiple metastases in the liver. Nine years ago it was discovered that I had a rare tumor of the eye, an ocular melanoma. Although the radiation and lasering to remove the tumor ultimately left me blind in that eye, only in very rare cases do such tumors metastasize. I am among the unlucky 2 percent.

I feel grateful that I have been granted nine years of good health and productivity since the original diagnosis, but now I am face to face with dying. The cancer occupies a third of my liver, and though its advance may be slowed, this particular sort of cancer cannot be halted.

It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can. In this I am encouraged by the words of one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, who, upon learning that he was mortally ill at age 65, wrote a short autobiography in a single day in April of 1776. He titled it “My Own Life.”

“I now reckon upon a speedy dissolution,” he wrote. “I have suffered very little pain from my disorder; and what is more strange, have, notwithstanding the great decline of my person, never suffered a moment’s abatement of my spirits. I possess the same ardour as ever in study, and the same gaiety in company.”

I have been lucky enough to live past 80, and the 15 years allotted to me beyond Hume’s three score and five have been equally rich in work and love. In that time, I have published five books and completed an autobiography (rather longer than Hume’s few pages) to be published this spring; I have several other books nearly finished.

Hume continued, “I am ... a man of mild dispositions, of command of temper, of an open, social, and cheerful humour, capable of attachment, but little susceptible of enmity, and of great moderation in all my passions.”

Here I depart from Hume. While I have enjoyed loving relationships and friendships and have no real enmities, I cannot say (nor would anyone who knows me say) that I am a man of mild dispositions. On the contrary, I am a man of vehement disposition, with violent enthusiasms, and extreme immoderation in all my passions.

And yet, one line from Hume’s essay strikes me as especially true: “It is difficult,” he wrote, “to be more detached from life than I am at present.”

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any 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 — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.

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.

More about Oliver Sacks>>> http://nymag.com/news/features/oliver-sacks-2012-11/


_________________
Everything is falling.


kraftiekortie
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 4 Feb 2014
Gender: Male
Posts: 64,846
Location: Queens, NYC

21 Feb 2015, 7:47 pm

Hello, Sir:

I've read some of your works, and thoroughly enjoy them. You have a great wit about you.

You have a Gehrigesque bravery which pervades all which you wrote here.

I'm thinking about the Gehrig speech right now.

I hope you are able to depart this world on your own terms.



B19
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator

User avatar

Joined: 11 Jan 2013
Gender: Female
Posts: 9,462
Location: New Zealand

21 Feb 2015, 10:19 pm

Tall-P, would it be ok with you if I PM you? Thanks for letting us know what has been happening for you.



ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 20,034
Location: Long Island, New York

21 Feb 2015, 10:32 pm

I hope your passing will be as painless and peaceful and rewarding as possible and maybe a little longer then you expect now.


_________________
Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman


Quill
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 20 Aug 2013
Gender: Female
Posts: 767

21 Feb 2015, 11:15 pm

Oops. :oops:



Last edited by Quill on 21 Feb 2015, 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

tall-p
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Dec 2010
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,222

21 Feb 2015, 11:32 pm

Gosh this isn't a message from me... it is a letter by Oliver Sacks. He's a famous person who has studied the mind, and consciousness, and written many books. He's a professor now. He's 81... Im 72. This letter was in the NYTimes a few days ago http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/opini ... .html?_r=0 I have read his books. Im terribly sorry, and apologize for creating confusion... if anyone thought that the letter was about me.


_________________
Everything is falling.


Quill
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 20 Aug 2013
Gender: Female
Posts: 767

21 Feb 2015, 11:38 pm

Ah, that's okay. Thanks for letting us know! I'm glad you're okay. I went ahead and edited my post so I wouldn't have to feel silly every time I saw it in the future. :) :lol:



B19
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator

User avatar

Joined: 11 Jan 2013
Gender: Female
Posts: 9,462
Location: New Zealand

21 Feb 2015, 11:49 pm

That's a relief :)



Marybird
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 26 Apr 2012
Gender: Female
Posts: 1,901

22 Feb 2015, 12:18 am

So I guess that means you're not Oliver Sacks.
Well, I'm glad you are tall-p and you're not dying.



tall-p
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Dec 2010
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,222

22 Feb 2015, 12:23 am

Thanks thanks :) :) :)


_________________
Everything is falling.


kraftiekortie
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 4 Feb 2014
Gender: Male
Posts: 64,846
Location: Queens, NYC

22 Feb 2015, 9:00 am

LOL....Should have known that this was a tribute to Oliver Sacks!

What a dope I am! :wink:

Yep...it's good that you're 72 and in excellent health (I hope!)



alpineglow
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 12 Aug 2012
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,197

22 Feb 2015, 1:37 pm

I drop in to see WP, see this thread, and I also mis-read it. :oops: Glad you are all right tall-P. Oliver is such a good writer, and the new book has a picture of him as a young guy on his motorcycle showing an obvious passionate and powerful person.
• I just realized that your writing style is a lot like his, which contributed to me thinking you were talking about yourself.
Okay. - all's well, I'm going back to read rather than write.



ASPartOfMe
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 62
Gender: Male
Posts: 20,034
Location: Long Island, New York

22 Feb 2015, 1:41 pm

oops. But whenever it does occur I still hope yours and everybody here passing is as painless and rewarding as possible and not soon.


_________________
Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman


Jensen
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 15 Feb 2013
Age: 66
Gender: Female
Posts: 3,207
Location: Denmark

22 Feb 2015, 3:51 pm

Tall-p, welcome back....and please, do remember the quotation signs next time :D


_________________
Femaline
Special Interest: Beethoven


B19
Forum Moderator
Forum Moderator

User avatar

Joined: 11 Jan 2013
Gender: Female
Posts: 9,462
Location: New Zealand

22 Feb 2015, 4:04 pm

If my memory serves me correctly, Tall-P, a while ago you wondered if WP was a congenial place for you. If nothing else, I hope this thread has had the happy outcome of relieving any residual doubt about that.