Heaven became three times richer this weekend with the passing of three incredibly gifted men who were each deeply committed to their craft. They illuminated our lives in varied ways with their brilliance and talents, and brightened our world with their legacies.
We were blessed to have had them among us. They will be missed.
I can't imagine our world missing out on the great, compassionate Oliver Sacks, the neurologist who loved and understood people and wrote his own unique tune of bridging science with storytelling. He lived his life so large that retelling it for the sake of an obituary seems almost impossible. Sacks was such an extraordinarily gifted man, studying the intricacies of the brain from every angle and applying his wealth of knowledge to help those suffering with brain-related illnesses through his practice and his books.
"People will make a life in their own terms, whether they are deaf or colourblind or autistic or whatever. And their world will be quite as rich and interesting and full as our world." ~Oliver Sacks
I see his writings as examples of possibility - pairing humanity with medicine by having an open and radiant heart. His love of music - particularly Beethoven and Mendelssohn - was legendary. It helped carry him to a kind of spirituality that helped him help others through the human suffering he understood too well. He knew a synergy existed between the mind and body and leaned on that for wellness for himself and others.
"Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears - it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more - it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity." ~Oliver Sacks
I first fell in love with author and motivational speaker Wayne Dyer after reading his 1976 bestselling book The Erroneous Zones that taught me how to stop negative self-talk. At the time I didn't know it but his words would later play an important role in my life after being diagnosed with MS. Other books would follow that were equally helpful including Pulling Your Own Strings, Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life, The Power of Intention and Excuses Begone!
"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours."
""Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice."
"Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life."~Wayne Dyer
The other day I took my usual walk and listened (for the millionth time) to Dyer reading his book Living the Wisdom of the Tao. He explains the teachings of the great Chinese prophet Lao-tzu and how changing the way you think will change your life. I love listening to Dyer's voice; this book always resonates deeply. Every time I hear it I am inspired and re-energized. It is a great gift he left for all of us.
I admittedly was not a fan of Wes Craven movies. But you can't argue the popularity of his films in such series as Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream. Going from the academic world into porn and then onto horror films, Craven carved a niche for himself that many theatergoers will truly miss.
Our world feels a bit emptier right now, but the legacies left behind by these three gentlemen help fill that void. To simply say thank you for their work sounds so inadequate. So instead I'll share a quote of Oliver Sacks upon learning of his terminal cancer:
"I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.
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."
This post was previously published on Cathy's blog, An Empowered Spirit.
Cathy Chester is an award-winning writer and health advocate who has lived with Multiple Sclerosis for 28 years. In her blog, An Empowered Spirit, she writes about finding the joy in life despite disability. But MS does not define her, so she also writes about living a quality life in midlife, social good causes, animal rights, book and movie reviews, and the importance of using compassion and kindness as a way of making the world a better place. Her work has been published in numerous online magazines and she takes pride in helping others manage the difficulties of living with a chronic illness.
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