July 6, 2013

"Eighty! I can hardly believe it. I often feel that life is about to begin..."

"... only to realize it is almost over," writes Oliver Sacks.
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.”)

17 comments:

Bob_R said...

Saw Bill Kirchen last night. He had a song about it being a good day whenever you woke up, stuck out his elbows, and didn't hit pine. Kirchen is a great guitar player. Glad he's still playing.

edutcher said...

No, you look out and say, "I still can't believe I'm this old. I still feel like I'm (whatever)".

How long you live is a matter of genetics, but it's also how you take care of yourself, mentally as well as physically.

ironrailsironweights said...

Elements and birthdays have been intertwined for me since boyhood, when I learned about atomic numbers. At 11, I could say “I am sodium” (Element 11), and now at 79, I am gold.

It would be cool to make it to, say, Nobelium or even Dubnium.

Peter

The Crack Emcee said...

“I wouldn’t go as far as that.”

BWAAA-HA-HA-HAAAA-HA-HA!!!!!!

traditionalguy said...

One of God's listed blessings is "a full life span." The number of birthdays that is was not specified by our laconic God.

rhhardin said...

Birth and death as punctual moments, and the interval that separates them, are lodged in this universal time of the historian, who is a survivor. Interiority as such is a "nothing," "pure thought," nothing but thought. In the time of the historiographer interiority is the non-being in which everything is possible, for in it nothing is impossible--the "everything is possible" of madness. This possibility is not an essence, that is, is not the possibility of a being. But for there to be a separated being, for the totalization of history not to be the ultimate schema of being, it is necessary that death, which for the survivor is an end, be not only this end; it is necessary that there be in dying another direction than the one which leads to the end as to a point of impact in the duration of survivors. Separation designates the possibility of an *existent* being set up and having its own destiny to itself, that is, being born and dying without the place of this birth and this death in the time of universal history being the measure of its reality. Interiority is the very possibility of a birth and a death that do not derive their meaning from history.

Levinas Totality and Infinity p.56

JAL said...

I have been intrigued by Oliver Sacks over the years.

It amazes me that he is 80.

madAsHell said...

My 87-year-old mother is afraid to die.
Not that she doesn't welcome death, but she's not done having a good time.

She's finally sitting at the table with the kool kids!!....and they are all family!

Richard Dolan said...

" ... a birth and a death that do not derive their meaning from history."

Walter Mitty doing his Marcel Proust imitation.

Phil 3:14 said...

"What was more striking was that he failed to notice the expressions on her face or her partners, though in the course of single torrid scene these passed through sultry yearning through passion, surprise, disgust and fury to a melting reconciliation."

somefeller said...

Cool and little-known fact: Samuel Beckett and Andre the Giant lived in the same French village and Beckett drove Andre to school when Andre was a teenager. Beckett had the only vehicle in the village that could easily fit Andre and it was as a favor to Andre's father, who was a handyman who did some work for Beckett and was his friend.

Dante said...

Eighty, I can hardly believe it.
One hundred and eleven years old -who would believe it? Gandalf, LOTR.

Tari said...

As George Bush remarked, when asked by a reporter if he was glad to be having his 80-somethingth birthday, "it's better than the alternative." May it always be for all of us, right until the end.

kentuckyliz said...

A full life span is possible no matter how long you live, even not knowing the length of that span. The span is not up to you; the fullness is.

frommtaxes said...

Wow and congratulations for sticking around. I try to value every single day and at 62 I also cannot believe I am this old. So I savor and appreciate every single day.

Fernandinande said...

Beldar said...

For anyone not familiar with Dr. Sacks' writing -- which is spectacularly good and keenly interesting -- I recommend starting with his most famous, "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat," which you can buy through the Althouse Amazon portal. His latest, "Hallucinations," is also quite good. Very accessible to lay audiences even though he's dealing with some of the most complex and mysterious subjects in neurology.