A Joyful Look at Old Age



Oliver Sacks, professor of neurology at N.Y.U. School of Medicine, and author of a dozen books, takes a joyful look at turning 80, in the July 6 Sunday Review in the New York Times.

Eighty! I can hardly believe it. I often feel that life is about to begin, only to realize it is almost over…

At nearly 80, with a scattering of medical and surgical problems, none disabling, I feel glad to be alive — “I’m glad I’m not dead!” sometimes bursts out of me when the weather is perfect. (This is in contrast to a story I heard from a friend who, walking with Samuel Beckett in Paris on a perfect spring morning, said to him, “Doesn’t a day like this make you glad to be alive?” to which Beckett answered, “I wouldn’t go as far as that.”)…

When my time comes, I hope I can die in harness, as Francis Crick did. When he was told that his colon cancer had returned, at first he said nothing; he simply looked into the distance for a minute and then resumed his previous train of thought. When pressed about his diagnosis a few weeks later, he said, “Whatever has a beginning must have an ending.” When he died, at 88, he was still fully engaged in his most creative work.

Read the complete article inThe New York Times

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