Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Dr. Oliver Sacks Gratitude 3/30/17 post
Dr. Oliver Sacks was, without a doubt, a remarkable man. His perspective on life is a highly intelligent and well thought out view. Of course, he has had to face so much adversity in his life, from being disgraced for coming out as a homosexual in a very religious Jewish family, to having to battle cancer. He says,
“I have tended since boyhood to deal with loss –losing people dear to me—by turning to the nonhuman […] Times of stress throughout my life have led me to turn , or return, to the physical sciences, a world where there is no life, but also no death”(Sacks 26).
His connection with the sciences and periodic table attest to his hardships, I think, and make him who he is. When he speaks of neither life nor death in the “perfect world” he makes the connection to physical science even more appealing. A thought of this world without pain and hardship—without cancer—without limitations or restrictions is what he gravitates toward. I believe, as humans, that we all look to the future and hope, beyond hope, that there is a utopia waiting for us. And then, suddenly, as in Dr. Sacks case, a sense of sorrow persists that we will not get to see this utopia, quite like the way he laments on not being able to see the new breakthroughs in physical science.in the following years. His constant draw back to the periodic table is emblematic. It is what his entire life has stood for.—the 4rth element Beryllium being the first his collection, thus when he realized his passion for science. As well as, at the end when he stares into the city of element 83, Bismuth. Again, we see his visualization of a perfect world. This”modest grey metal” is symbolic of his love and devotion to his profession as a doctor. He says,
“My feeling as a doctor for the mistreated and marginalized extends into the inorganic world and finds a parallel in my feeling for Bismuth” (Sacks 30).
This parallel speaks worlds to the adversity he has faced, especially as a young adult discovering his sexuality. In the last chapter he speaks of how he slowly faded away from his religious affiliations. He tells about his friend who received a Nobel Prize declaring celebration of Sabbath would have trumped the prize ceremony. He, however, put achieving peace within one’s self at the utmost priority regardless of spiritual or nonspiritual sentiment. Dr. Oliver Sacks was an incredible individual, and I very much enjoyed this collection of his essays. I think his ideas are well beyond the 45 pages of the book, and speak volumes to those of us who share a love for science as well as those of us who have experienced coping with hardship and adversity.