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. 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.
— Oliver Sacks
I learned about the life and work of Oliver Sacks many years ago through one of his beloved friends, Robin Williams, one of my favorite actors and artists of all time. Robin Williams created his own “version” of Oliver Sacks to tell the neurologist’s story in the movie Awakenings (1990), with Robert De Niro.
Last year, somehow I discovered a new book written by Oliver Sacks, called Gratitude. It’s not so much a book, but more a collection of essays he wrote and published during his life. There are four essays that show different aspects and facets of his journey: Mercury, My Own Life, My Periodic Table and Sabbath.
This book (and the man behind it) has been a true inspiration for me. It made me think about gratitude and the way we live our lives more than ever. Therefore, in this post I’ll share four things I’m grateful for, trying to match the four essays Olive Sacks shared with all of us.
- I’m grateful for achieving one of my life’s dreams — studying abroad, under my own terms and in the city I fell in love with — San Diego. I went to San Diego State University (SDSU), which made me an Aztec for Life. I did things my way and somehow it all worked. It didn’t happen without its fare share of sacrifices and risks, but in the end it is one of the things I’m most proud of starting and concluding.
- I’m grateful for my family and for my friends. They have been there to advise and support me along the way, in all the good and bad moments. Being away from them has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life so far. But I know they are always there, and it gives me tremendous comfort and strength to continue.
- I’m grateful for choosing the Internet as my professional platform. I’m thankful to my father for introducing me to this technological world (he is a mechanical engineer) and helping me find the thing I’m passionate about. I love what I do and it is a gift, because one can easily take this for granted. I don’t see myself doing anything else other than being a designer and developer for the web. It wasn’t always clear this was the path for me, but today I have no doubts, and it is inspiring to work with and learn something new everyday.
- Finally, I’m grateful for every person that showed me or shared an important lesson in my life. Lovers, bosses, professors, co-workers, random people during a quiet afternoon walk. I am thankful for meeting and spending time with them in this existence. It made my life richer and it brought me the meaning and connection we all so hopefully pursue.
Oliver Sacks showed me how to live in a constant state of wonder and try to find joy in simple things that happen everyday. As Brené Brown (another author I highly recommend) would say:
“We can spend our entire lives in scarcity… just waiting for the other shoe to drop and wondering when it will all fall apart. Or, we can lean into the uncertainty and be thankful for what we have in that precious moment. When I’m standing at the crossroads of fear and gratitude, I’ve learned that I must choose vulnerability and practice gratitude if want to know joy. I’m not sure that it will ever be easy for me, but I have learned to trust this practice. For that, I give thanks!”