I just finished (03/25/2016) reading Oliver Sack’s Gratitude, which triggered many personal insights – nothing profound, but quite meaningful.
I was lying on Eloise’s bed, in her bedroom with the door closed, reading Gratitude. Xerces (cat) was under the bed and I didn’t want him to escape again. I had called Eloise earlier, as I had not talked with her yesterday and I was a bit concerned. She and Stephanie were camping on the beach in Carlsbad, California. Yesterday they went on a boat to view whales and dolphins. Eloise had fallen while getting on the boat. Her cast/boot had caught on something. She was not injured, bruised knee and cheek OK. Piper (dog) was frightened by the screaming children, but enjoyed the boat ride. They are trying to stay another day and waiting to see. I am pleased they are having a good time and accept that my decision to stay behind was correct.
Albert loaned me his copy of Gratitude, so I canceled my order with the library. I was quite surprised that it was such a small book, four short essays (published in the NYTimes) and a brief introduction. I have waited a week before reading; indeed, I had forgotten I had it to read – as my memory is failing. I am 81, Oliver died at 82.
Oliver motivated me to attempt composing in like form. Why did I start writ.. and change to composing, which has long been my choice of label. Only at this moment do I associate it with music. Is it more my channeling nuet and not the act of my fingers typing (not even writing), more mental that physical? I experience both my fingers and my viewing the letters emerge on the screen.
There were many insights generated by my reading Gratitude. I can’t recall any of them at this moment, so I will need to look back into the book, periodically as I compose.
I noticed Oliver’s (or Sack’s, which?) frequent reference to specific persons, dead but read, and alive and met. He quoted David Hume, who I have not read and can’t remember his specific “philosophy”. Should I read some Hume?
Looking back to the book: Hume was commenting on facing aging & death, and Oliver distinguished both his similarities and differences with Hume. Hume had titled his essay “My Own Life”, which Oliver used to title his essay. This triggered a too brief comparison between myself and Oliver Sachs:
In many ways, Oliver Sachs made his mark, he was successful in contributing, he was able to share his valuable insights and was recognized. I have been stimulated many times by his insights, well expressed by his “story telling”. Although I believe my composing is also a form of “telling stories”, this is not so perceived by others.
This past year I have been praised by two persons for the quality and precision of my text. They acknowledge the density, but appreciate it. The density of my text is a barrier to most. Yet, one of these persons has ceased corresponding (I also have failed to attempt resumption) and the other is too recent (it is up to me to respond to her last comment in a blog thread).
Unlike Oliver, I have yet to share my insights. Although I do converse with others, face to face and online, the dialog is seldom about the content of my insights. Occasionally my “piece” will be praised, as a whole, but never feedback on the content. I have been told, when I ask, that they can’t even think of questions to ask me. When there is reference to content, it is always related to another idea that they associate my insight, which is usually far from the mark.
So, I face my ending of life unfulfilled. I have great gratitude for my having discovered so much of potential value to humankind and Gaia, but do remain frustrated that I am unable to share. My “creativity” is respected, but others don’t know what to do with me. A few may inquire about my health if they don’t hear from me, but no one asks for more about my insights, ideas, or proposals. Sometimes I am asked for my views on an issue of concern by another. I am quite perplexed about my inability to share what I deeply believe is of high value to others, and In My Analysis, may be critical to “the survival/thrival of Humankind/Gaia”. I wonder if what I had put in quotes, in the prior sentence, stimulates “meaning” in others?
————————- (04/02/2016 Many days have gone by and commenting more on Gratitude doesn’t have high priority. I will post this now on my blog. This is not to say that what Gratitude did for me wasn’t important. Not enough people read me or my blog, so I am not denying others my further comments. Hopefully, they will also read Oliver Sacks.