Gratitude by Oliver Sacks - a review

I've just finished reading the final work of Neurologist and storyteller Oliver Sacks. Actually, I've read this perfect book three times in as many days and envision it will remain a constant companion.

'Gratitude' is composed of four meditations: each written during a distinct phase in Sack's final years. His delight at turning 80; straightening accounts following the re-appearance of an aggressive cancer; energy and wonder during a brief reprieve; and some final words published just two weeks before his death at 82.

 

'There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever'.

Sack's writing has a gentle humour, but it's never self-deprecating. I like that. His reflections are neither self-serving nor faux wisdom. They're lovely descriptions of how he connected with his surroundings and received the world's gifts, as well as his delight at being able to contribute through his twin vocations. Framing every page is his desperate love for science, nature and humanity.

'Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.'

 I'm in awe of Sack's capacity for reflecting on and absorbing the world's majesty and then refining his cognitions into beautiful, accessible sentences. I can't find the words to describe how pleased I am to have read this book, but I feel nourished.