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Alive and Kicking

Posted By Alex Belth On July 9, 2013 @ 9:32 am In 1: Featured,Pop Culture | Comments Disabled

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Writing in the New York Times, here’s Oliver Sacks on the Joy of Old Age [2]:

Eighty! I can hardly believe it. I often feel that life is about to begin, only to realize it is almost over. My mother was the 16th of 18 children; I was the youngest of her four sons, and almost the youngest of the vast cousinhood on her side of the family. I was always the youngest boy in my class at high school. I have retained this feeling of being the youngest, even though now I am almost the oldest person I know.

I thought I would die at 41, when I had a bad fall and broke a leg while mountaineering alone. I splinted the leg as best I could and started to lever myself down the mountain, clumsily, with my arms. In the long hours that followed, I was assailed by memories, both good and bad. Most were in a mode of gratitude — gratitude for what I had been given by others, gratitude, too, that I had been able to give something back. “Awakenings” had been published the previous year.

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.”) I am grateful that I have experienced many things — some wonderful, some horrible — and that I have been able to write a dozen books, to receive innumerable letters from friends, colleagues and readers, and to enjoy what Nathaniel Hawthorne called “an intercourse with the world.”

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[1] Image: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/therailrodderkurzfilmia5.gif

[2] Oliver Sacks on the Joy of Old Age: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/07/opinion/sunday/the-joy-of-old-age-no-kidding.html?_r=0

[3] Image: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/tumblr_m8nqhfO0Al1qf1hu0o1_r1_1280.jpg

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