The best 30 minutes of your week

Gratitude by Oliver Sacks

I just read this little book, Gratitude, by Oliver Sacks.  It is a series of four essays written in the last two years of his life.  It took about 30 minutes to read.  Already I want to read it again.  It is that kind of a book.  Life changing.  Reminding me of the things that I need to be reminded of every day.  Maybe my New Year's Resolution should be to read this book every day.

Why?  Simply and concisely, Sacks says everything that needs to be said.  Dying gives many of us that clarity.  In the hands of a writer with Sacks talents it results in these words.

My predominant feeling one of gratitude. I have loved and have been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, that in itself has been an enormous priviledge and adventure.

Isn't that beautiful?  My wish for you in this holiday season it that you too will learn the wisdom that Oliver Sack's shares in Gratitude, but that you learn it now while you are not finished with living and long before you are face to face with dying. 


Oliver Wolf Sacks, CBE, FRCP (9 July 1933 – 30 August 2015) was a British neurologist, naturalist and author who spent his professional life in the United States. He felt that the brain was the "most incredible thing in the universe" and therefore important to study. He became widely known for writing best-selling case histories about his patients' disorders, with some of his books adapted for film and stage.

Sacks was the author of numerous best-selling books, mostly collections of case studies of people with neurological disorders. His writings have been featured in a wide range of media; the New York Times called him a "poet laureate of contemporary medicine", and "one of the great clinical writers of the twentieth century".His books included a wealth of narrative detail about his experiences with patients, and how they coped with their conditions, often illuminating how the normal brain deals with perception, memory and individuality.

Awakenings (1973), an autobiographical account of his efforts to help people with encephalitis lethargica regain proper neurological function, was adapted into the Academy Award-nominated film in 1990, starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. He and his book Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain were the subject of "Musical Minds", an episode of the PBS series Nova.