When I came home tonight I knew something.
"So, I guess you've gotten several dozen emails about Oliver Sacks's editorial?"
She didn't really want to talk about it. What's to talk about? Before missus c was a doctor, in the waitress/actor days, we always had Oliver Sacks books on the mantel. Awakenings. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Fascinating explorations of the brain, and what it means to be conscious, to be human. She might not say it, but I'd guess he's as much the reason that she chose neurology as a career path as anything.
I spent last Sunday having dinner with neurologists. The ones in question were a delight, as I suspect Dr. Sacks would be. Neurologists are a fun crowd. Missus c has brushed elbows with him, and learned from others who may not be so renowned but are bigshots in their field for good reasons.
I read Dr. Sacks's books. They are aimed at the interested layman, and they deliver tremendous bang for the buck. I put him right up there with Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson as populist communicators of science to those who may not have advanced degrees. I cannot value this category of educator higher than they deserve. America, more than most Western democracies, is in desperate need of science educators. It matters so much.
So I guess it's no surprise that he comes to us with the brutal truth of being face to face with one's own death, and what that means to one person.
It frightens me, and it baffles me, and it humbles me. I want to be able to do something, I guess. But there's nothing to be done.
So I guess I'm left with "Thank you, Dr. Sacks." I know you inspired my missus, I know you inspired countless others. Including me, though I am in no way a medical professional. Ripples in a pond. World improving. Cause of you.