Celebrating Oliver Sacks



“To live on a day-to-day basis is insufficient for human beings; we need to transcend, transport, escape; we need meaning, understanding, and explanation; we need to see over-all patterns in our lives. We need hope, the sense of a future. And we need freedom (or, at least, the illusion of freedom) to get beyond ourselves, whether with telescopes and microscopes and our ever-burgeoning technology, or in states of mind that allow us to travel to other worlds, to rise above our immediate surroundings.” – Oliver Sacks.

I also knew him at first as the writer of the book entitled The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. I instantly fell in love with him, as many othe readers did before and after me.

What I liked the most in his writings:

1. Warmness.

He comes very close and whatever he has in mind, he presents it in writing with a style that equals honest laughing marks near the eyes.

2. Empathy.

He doesn’t stand on a pedastal, preaching and teaching – he is there, with them and thus with us, with me. We’re ”in this” together.

3. Friendship.

I didn’t just get another book about mental illnesses – I’ve gotten a friend. And with him many more friends. And the world stopped being as scary as it was a minute ago.

4. Understanding.

Understanding not just himself, not just his patients, but his readers as well. And understanding that he cannot understand everything – accepting the mystical and the enigma, accepting his and our own limits. He wasn’t a know-it-all guy. But he had this never quenching thirst for knowledge that helped not just his patients and possibly thousands of other ill people around the world, but us as well. (Wanting to understand the other person is sometimes more important than medical knowledge.)

5. Sincerity.

One can learn one or two things about being sincere from him, that’s for sure. I have learnt more from him about human nature and myself than from many writers using empty words after empty words altogether.

6. Grandfather-like storyteller.

From the first sentence I have developed a deep trust in him and he had this aura of authority around him without being one of those people who demand respect.

7. Bringing into the light of humanity scary and misunderstood people, who are simply ill.

They are just like me, except something terrible thing happened to them. I could be one of them, and life would still be very beautiful. Because there is always beauty and value in life itself.

8. Love and goodwill.

A deep caring and a genuine goodwill is woven into his stories that make them more memorable. It’s not just a genius mind’s and a splendid storyteller’s book about unfortunate people, but it’s also about what compassion and love can do – a real change for the better in this world.

But I am still talking about him as if he were alive.

Oliver Sacks was born on the 9th of July 1933, and died this year on the 30th of August. Rest in peace, Mr. Oliver Sacks! We will miss you!

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