MENTAL NOTE

"Though we cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run."
Blue, resist the urge to use facebook. You can do it. Good luck.
Cats and dogs can be friends. So can cowboys and indians. So can we.
Why try to be the best when there's no hierarchy in heaven?

Friday, September 4, 2015

Oliver Sacks Has Left the Building

Sigh... What more can I say? Oliver Sacks has left the building. And please don't bombard me with platitudes like, 'Such is life!' Oliver Sacks is dead. That means something. 


When I was ill back in July 2011, counting my blessings on a daily basis, even hourly, I found solace in one of Mr. Sacks's books, Musicophilia, a fascinating collection of case studies in which he describes, in a very passionate way, the wonders of the human mind in relation to music. I am saddened to learn that Mr. Sacks died six days ago when I was sitting behind my desk wasting precious time watching meaningless YouTube videos.

Sigh. I will miss you. I love the way you wrote. I love the characteristic eloquence of your writing. Reading about absolute pitch and musical imagery in the comforting shade of a palm tree feeling so awful I could barely lift a finger, I absorbed the sheer humanity of your work thinking this was probably my final vacation on the planet Earth. As it turns out, I'm still alive and you're not. How is that fair? Because you were old and I'm, well, 45? Because you lived a life that was full while mine is quite empty? I don't know. It doesn't seem fair to me. You had so much more to share. I can't believe you will never write another word again. Would you believe me if I told you that only 24 hours ago I looked up the word 'sleep paralysis' in Hallucinations (2012), the one book you wrote I'm ashamed to admit I haven't read yet, only to discover an entire chapter devoted to this terrifying experience I had in 1990 that I would rather forget about? It had been sitting in my bookcase for years, waiting for me to read it —"nightmares were radically different from ordinary dreams in their invariable sense of a fearful presence" (227) — and all this time I didn't even know. It figures.

So now what? Life goes on? Let's buy another Ted Baker suit? Am I so vain I'm having an incredibly hard time grasping and accepting the full thrust of what it means to be gone forever — that split second when one moment you're alive and then, poof, you're gone? Am I so vain to think that it's completely unacceptable that my life will one day, maybe today, end too?

Yes.

All I can say is, Godspeed, Mr. Sacks. May there be a God for you, Sir, for I and everybody else on this planet who are still breathing and taking wonderful selfies, can guess and hope but never really know.

* * *

75 comments:

  1. Good Morning Blue,

    Let me ponder this and get back to you so I can leave my thoughts when I am not in a hurry to rush to work...Godspeed indeed

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    1. Good things come to those who wait... Now, who said that?

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    2. a lord to his butler while giving him his wages:)

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    3. Blue,

      It always sad when a life ends, but i think his legacy lives on in his books and case studies. Who know his words may help people still on this side of the plane? I have heard of Awakenings.

      I know it scares you to think everything ends with that last breath, but I really believe there is more.

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    4. Good things come to those who wait...patience is a virtue they say...I just wonder how long does one wait???

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    5. Robin Williams played Sacks in that movie. It's a true story. As for that last breath, mind you that on this planet the majority is always wrong. I hope you're right. I would wait for centuries if I could. (Sorry, Cat, I'm playing the what if game again.)

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  2. Time to read that one last book.
    That is almost a scary thing to think there will be no more words. But the ones he wrote will live on.
    And I know there is a God.

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    1. Be careful now, Alex. There's a difference between knowing and knowing. But I do hope you are right.

      No more words... It's unbelievable but true. Yes, I'd better read that final book. Have a nice day, Ninja.

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  3. Time is of essence, no need putting things off when there's still time.

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  4. I have to sadly admit I've never heard of him before, but if he touched you that much with his work it means he has fulfilled his goal and his life for meaningful, Blue.
    Unlike people, words never die, which is why so many people try to immortalize themselves by writing.

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    1. Is that why you want me to publish my nonsense?

      You may have heard of the movie Awakenings (1990), starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro, which is based on Oliver Sacks's book.

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    2. What? And have you haunting us till the end of time? :)

      Nope, never heard of it.... Me was about twelve at the time and my country was falling apart and we had civil war... talk about rude awakenings....

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    3. So, off topic, has the new school started for you, professah Blue? Any hot new students? Studentess?
      Did Angelina like the wardrobe?
      Did Mongo bestow a present in it?
      Why not?
      Yes, it's true, I'm hot....
      at least when I'm not..
      which is most of the time...

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    4. Still prepping for the first term which starts September 15th. The wardrobe isn'r finished yet. Don't you know I'm the slowest closet builder in history? The thing is, I need to fix the ceiling first :(

      You're hot when you're not. That's quite a riddle.

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    5. oh, noes, is it still leaking? Half of the rooms in my house are leaking too.. there's never an end to that....you fix one leakage another one appears...

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    6. Not leaking (knock on wood, rubber and steel) but old and crooked. If yor roof is leaking, you should get on the roof and apply some type of roof waterproofing coating - old school if necessary (roof tarring). Otherwise the situation will get much much worse.

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    7. me on the roof? You truly must be joking, Sir Randy Mandy, I'd fall off the first step on the ladders :) We've tried everything, but the water just find a lil' hole between the tiles somewhere.... it's like in floods, no matter how huge walls you build around the river, water will always find a way through.

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    8. That's why you need to go on the roof with a hose or buckets of water to locate the problem. No?

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  5. I only knew Oliver Sacks through the great radio show/podcast Radiolab. He was great on that and I join you in mourning his passing.

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  6. Guess you better read that one last book
    And his words will live on at many a nook
    It's the people left behind that care and ask why
    He's probably off enjoying some other adventure and being spry
    There is something after death I think
    But if not, then we won't know when we go down the drink
    As for "God" or anything like that
    Sure beats the cat
    There are 2000 gods or so
    So which one is true and in the know?
    All a human crock maybe?
    I guess we shall see
    Or not
    And just rot

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    1. Words of wisdom from The Cat
      I knew you'd understand me on your mat
      You will have 2,000 books finished when you go
      No one will forget you or you Kitty Cat show

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    2. 2000 books you say?
      Damn, still about 1900 away
      I'd have to strike it rich
      To have that many a book to my hitch

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    3. You will make it so
      Then buy a boat in Soho
      Off you go
      To the Bora Bora show
      Taking it slow

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    4. Hmm I think with a boat
      I'd be worse steering than a goat
      Sink like the Titanic I would
      Hire a crew I should

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    5. Well, I could quit and raise you a harrrr
      Bring some friends and we'd get far

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    6. Far you say
      Keep the shore in sight by night and day

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    7. Far but not too far
      I don't want to end up on no star ;)
      Does the grammar make you say, 'Harrrr'?

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    8. The cat has done worse
      No grammar shall make me curse

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  7. I am so sorry to say (shamefully too) that I had never heard of Oliver Sacks and now I will only hear about him and read about him after he has passed from this world. Life is so fleeting, yet it seems like he made an impact on you and so many others through his writing. I am definitely going to get Musicophilia and read it and hope my musician husband will want to read it too. There is definitely an effect with music (though I'm tone deaf, that's the way life goes, opposites attract). It is silly and relates to "just a dog" but when we had our corgi, he actually preferred hubby's classical music playing as opposed to the electric guitar. He'd stay close to hubby when he was playing the classical guitar but would go to another part of the house when the electric was played. I even blogged about that in the past. So music does affect indeed.

    I am sorry for the world's loss with the passing of Oliver Sacks.

    betty

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    1. Hi betty. Thank you for your wonderful comment. You may have heard of the movie Awakenings (1990), starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. This movie was based on Oliver Sacks's book.

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  8. I have only just heard about Oliver Sacks now (unless I did in the past and forgot). It is ironic how so many meaningless things take the forefront then you are hot hard by the death of someone you looked up to. God Speed to both Mr. Sacks and you as well Blue Grumpster.

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  9. Add me to the list of people who had never heard of him. I like Robin Williams (and felt a great loss at his passing) but have not seen that particular movie.

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    1. Well, at least now you know his name.You might want to read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. It's a compelling read.

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  10. I'm sad to admit that I have never heard of him before either, but this was a beautiful tribute to him. He obviously touched your life with his words, and I think it's a wonderful thing that you can go back and still find comfort in his works.

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  11. Life can leave us at any moment. We have to live it like he obviously did.

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  12. Hi Blue!
    Oliver Sacks will be missed. Loved his work. I think we inventory people by their works, or lack there of, and call it "purpose." We grade them on the only scale we 'see'. We do not count the unseen, mainly because most are not understanding of it's properties and benefits. Such as the sleep pralysis topic. Obviously, Sacks knew of it - was that from self-experience, or an accumulation of subject interviews? I think he 'knew it.' I do. Fear can be a very stronger motivator. Let's not allow the fear of... "we might not accomplish what Sacks did," to indeed influence self judgement. You are not the one 'looking' at your life, deciding whether or not, you're purposeful. Keep that in mind... and you'll add more peace in your life. SO much for my opinion, okay? Done. (smile).

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    1. I love your opinion. Thanks for your wonderful comment. It's good to have you back. You loved his work? Well, there's another thing we have in common. I wish I had some M&M's.

      No, Sacks didn't suffer from sleep paralysis himself. (I just checked chapter 12 of Hallucinations.) Well, good for him. It isn't an experience I would recommend.

      I'll keep your words in mind. I'm smiling.

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  13. It's always sad when an author that touched our lives passes away.

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    1. Very sad. It's so depressing.

      Hi Mary. Have a great weekend.

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  14. I agree with Mary above me. I'm sorry you've lost someone who was so influential to you (and I'm def. sure many others as well).

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Rosey. Have a great weekend.

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  15. sorry that you're feeling the loss of an inspiring person, Blue. he will be missed even as you are missing him now. what are we but a tiny speck in the magic of the universe when you look at the grand scheme of things. btw, i'm going to pick up that Hallucinations now.
    i'm still battling to find my purpose here, hoping that someday it becomes clearer.
    i had a beautiful dream this morning: was showing some people this place.
    A place so beautiful, the sun was high up in the blue, blue sky. there were a field of yellow flowers that gleamed in the sunlight..cant be sure what they were, and there was a glorious canyon that changed colours when the evening sun was upon it. as we went along, we came to a hill side of coconut palms in every imaginable shade of green. towards the end, as it grew darker, there was an eerie side to the dream as well when we were caught at the underground of an ancient building but i was feeling triumphant too.
    hope you're well :)

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    1. Before you pick up Hallucinations, pick this one up first: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

      That's quite a dream. I never remember mine, but I think I'm lucky that way. Those that I do remember (I'd say one in 100) are invariably violent.

      I'm doing okay. Not great but okay. That's not too bad, now, is it?

      As for the enigma that is your purpose... I like to keep things simple. I'm just happy to have known you all these years. There.

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    2. that's not too bad. i am okay too, not great.
      i've kept it simple for a long time now, Blue. i just feel like there has to be something more to my purpose here in this realm.

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    3. You'll figure it out. You are smart.

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  16. Spread your word while you can, leave your footprint where you find yourself. That is all anyone can ever do. Life has a way of taking care of itself.

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    1. It sure does. Hi, Shadow. How are you today?

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  17. Oliver Sacks is a new name to me, but Awakenings is not. I loved that movie. He lived a long life, he got to do what he loved, and many, many people knew him because of it and were able to appreciate his work. I don't feel like there's a lot to be sad about. That's the dream.

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    1. I hear ya, but when we get to be his age, I'm sure there are still many things we'd like to do, fellas. Just saying. Yeah, Robin Williams played Oliver Sacks in Awakenings, but his name was changed on Sacks's request.

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  18. I had to look up Oliver Sacks - I just read the post A Life Well Lived on his blog - I would be happy to have the first paragraph as my exit from life!!! He sounds like an interesting man. Thanks for the introduction & I'm sorry he's no longer here.

    I've been reminded more & more of my mortality recently - it's quite confronting!!!!

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    1. Very confronting. Have a good week, AlleyCat :)

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  19. I was sad to read it actually ~ His legacy will always be with us, thankfully ~ Have a good week Blue ~

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    1. Hi Grace. Yes, it's a sad truth that one of my favorite authors is no longer among us. Have a good week.

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  20. Guess that's a reminder that we need to get our "stories" out there. Don't want to die with them still inside!

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  21. Oh his death hit you hard...amazing how that happens with people we never met but respect so much. I have a feeling your life is not empty. We all can't change the world en masse but we can change our little part of it:)

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    1. Yes, it sure hit me hard, Birgit. The same happened when Robin Williams died, but also Leonard Nimoy, Harold Ramis, James Rebhorn and Roger Ebert. Some would say, 'Such is life!' but I have a problem with such a response. Yes, let's change our little part of the world.

      Great to hear from you.

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  22. Oh, I'm sorry you're so sad, Blue. I know it must be difficult to see someone who has inspired you so much pass on, out of this life. At least he left behind a good legacy of knowledge and a few sparks of life in those who read his work.

    Your life isn't empty! You have us, here in the Blogosphere! It may seem that I am making a joke by saying that, but I assure you I'm not. We've all been touched by your words, through your posts and your comments. We're all friends here, though it is unlikely that any of us will meet each other face to face. It's a great community experience, the Blogosphere. I actually wrote a paper about it a couple of years ago. Writing about it made me think about this whole thing in a new way. It was really quite illuminating. But now I'm babbling.

    Hugs and cookies to you, my friend!

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    1. I love your babbling. Especially when it isn't babbling in my book - but I'm, of course, biased. Thanks for your kind words. I love knowing you.

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  23. He seemed to be a very cool guy indeed. I know he had a long life, but I was still sad when I found out he had that rare cancer, and when I read that he had departed this world. But he is onto his next adventure, methinks.

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    1. He was very cool. I hope you're right. I really do. :)

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  24. Wait, has it been 4 whole years since the summer of doom?

    And how many Ted Baker suits do you have?

    I know how you feel Blue, only death can remind us of our mortality - even if it's for a short time - before we go back embracing our humanity and warped sense of immortality. It's the perfectly natural thing that we do.

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    1. The summer of doom... 2011. You'd better believe it, cous. Time doesn't merely fly - it's playing games with us. I only have three Ted Baker suits, but that's only because they are so darn expensive. (Did I say, 'darn'?) But I'm afraid I've only just begun... I have about 14 suits, but now most of the other 11 suits look like crap to me. (Did I say, 'crap'?) I just need a reality check, is all.

      Our warped sense of immortality... I'm way beyond that.

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    2. Three is better than none. Also, try adding Tom Ford to your collection :D

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    3. LOL, you have a league? Can I be on your team?

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