Teachers of life, teachers of love

September 5, 2015

love bagI ran across this bag in Maui on the weekend that Oliver Sacks and Wayne Dyer began their next great adventure. It struck me that they were two men who made their work all about love. Dyer explicitly, Sacks implicitly.

The brilliant Oliver Sacks, a neurologist, a writer, an observer of the first order. Most lay people got to know him from the movie made about one of his books. But what a treat it was to read his essays: intelligent, humane, poetic, even. He was a man in touch with both sides of his brain and the world was richer for it.

The eminently quotable Wayne Dyer, a self-help guru before there was such a thing. A man who put himself out there and changed so many lives.  His observations were practical, useful, targeted. He died in Maui, where (coincidentally) I had been all week.

So much about their work has resonated for me over the years, but at this age, when I’m closer than ever to the veil, I consider their thoughts about death and dying.

Dr. Dyer’s family said he had no fear of death and couldn’t wait for “this next adventure.”  I would have expected nothing less from him.  At 2 a.m., the night after he made his transition, I awakened in Maui and thought about the joy he must have felt upon arrival. He was, after all, an enthusiastic guy. On the flight home the next day  I wondered what he found when he crossed over and what would be next for him.

Dr. Sacks admitted to a being a little afraid in an essay a few months ago. He ended his last essay in the New York Times (Aug. 14, 2015) this way:

And now, weak, short of breath, my once-firm muscles melted away by cancer, I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life — achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.

Such a prolific man: he earned his rest.

Death is the great unknown, and the uncertainty is why we fear it. In recent years, though, I find my attitude toward death moderating. I’m less fearful and more curious. I know it’s the result of my reading and my many conversations with those who have gone before me.

I love that Dr. Dyer saw death as a great adventure. It doesn’t surprise me that Dr. Sacks saw it as a deserved rest. Because I think so many of you can relate to this quote, I’ll let him have the final, profound word, from the essay “My Own Life:”

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

Yes, holes that can not be filled.

RIP, good doctors. Thank you for still teaching us,even in death.

13 comments on “Teachers of life, teachers of love
  1. You know how I feel about them from my blog post. And though they may have feared death less I believe they also rallied to live as well because they loved life. They are missed already yet their spirits live on in us all.

    That said, I’ll still wonder what else they had to say because I know there was more…

  2. I’ve long admired both of these men. They will be missed. We can only hope they knew what a difference they made while they were here. Brenda

  3. A lovely essay, Carol. Thank you for posting. Molly

  4. Great bag and good thoughts on love and two people that was good at spreading it.

  5. Hi Carol! I had forgotten that you were in Hawaii last weekend when Wayne Dyer passed on. How interesting to be a small part of that. I was far less familiar with the work of Dr. Sacks but I appreciate how you have contrasted the view of these two men. Because my consciousness is much more in alignment with Dr. Dyer my view of what comes next is similar. No matter how renowned we are during our current lifetimes we take none of it with us no matter what happens. That’s why I love Dyer’s quote, “The last suit you wear–you don’t need any pockets.” ~Kathy

  6. Touching words honoring men who so warmly, wisely touched our hearts. Indeed, RIP.

  7. They both touched the world and those around them. Beautiful bag!

  8. Carol, I so enjoy your posts. This one is so divine, touching on the lives of these kind and deep souls. Yes death is becoming more of an interesting topic among my friends, but I so love knowing that we are all so special and irreplaceable. Great post!

  9. V. Dotter says:

    I love inspired posts. I realized that the appeal of blogging was the ability to pay tribute to my inspirations. Feels like its the least we could do for all the good that is bestowed upon us – all that talent and consideration. We all live to be remembered, so they were so very accomplished. Thanks for the post and glad to connect.

  10. WendysHat says:

    LOVE the bag! Beautifully written thoughts on this subject too. I’ve been fascinated since I took a class my first year in college that studied the book “On Death and Dying”.

  11. Carol, my heart hurts hearing about the death of Wayne Dyer. Several years ago my husband, daughter and I had the pleasure of attending one of his lectures in San Francisco, CA. I have read many of his books and found so much truth, joy and inspiration in each one. I know that he is now enjoying an even more fulfilling life and has embarked on a grand new adventure.

  12. What a beautiful post honoring to remarkable men. Lots of food for thought!

  13. What a wonderful tribute. Beautiful.

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  1. […] say more about this at an archived post from my other site and since you’ll die one day — yes, we all will and you will, too — it’s a […]

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