Dr. Oliver Sacks, one of the most inspirational and profound writers of our time has died at the age of 82 after a terminal cancer diagnoses.
Sack’s writing has been an influence on not only my writing but just about every writer I know today and his contributions to our world will be forever missed.
As an honorary board member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Sacks was a vocal secularist, but a quiet atheist. Saying:
I’m a sort of quiet, old, Jewish atheist. I’m not a militant atheist. I don’t sort of argue about things like [Richard] Dawkins and [Daniel] Dennett and Sam Harris. I quite like their books, but I’m not militant by nature, and I’m not very argumentative by nature. And if people want to believe, well, then that’s their business.
Yet his words, while never as brash or harsh as the new atheists he mentions carried just as much weight and his views on society and the place science and reason have in it are no less powerful.In his final piece for the New York Times published only two weeks ago, ended in a poetic goodbye maybe only he could see coming.
And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.
The world lost an amazing man today, but thankfully he leaves behind books and articles that will continue to influence people and change the world forever.
[Image: © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons]