In memory of Stephen Hawkings

I had the opportunity to meet with Stephen Hawkins several times while working in Astronomy during my time with the Physics Department in the National University of Ireland in Galway.

Our group head invited him to speak at the university and we had the opportunity to meet and ask him questions afterwards at a wine reception.

I remember us asking him questions. We would pause and wait for his response. Maybe 60 second or 90 seconds would pass before he would respond. He would construct his response with tiny movements to his finger scanning groups of words from his computer display attached to his wheelchair and choose the correct. words (later he lost the power of his fingers too and the technology evolved to track his eye movements). Finally he would press play and the voice would speak the response.

The answers were simple and direct. Sometimes insightful. Often humorous. He liked red wine.

I learned something really powerful that day. And it wasn’t. in the answers. It was in the suspense of waiting for the answers. Each answer was suspended by an Eon. In that moment I learned the power of listening deeply.

What if you were to wait for two minutes before you. received a response from someone. Not once, but every time you asked. Would it teach you patience? Would it teach you to be more exact and precise in your questions and responses? I think it probably would.

I learned a lot from those few occasions we met.

May his memory live on.

Stephen. You have proved that Motor Neuron Disease does not have to be a life sentence. You lived a very full life!

There is a lovely obituary in the guardian today. I have taken a quote from it…

“Those who live in the shadow of death are often those who live most. For Hawking, the early diagnosis of his terminal disease, and witnessing the death from leukaemia of a boy he knew in hospital, ignited a fresh sense of purpose. “

Purpose. It’s important.

R.I.P. Stephen Hawkins.