Issue # 4: Winter 1998 © 1998 Neil F. Neimark, M.D.
LIVING MORE PASSIONATELY
In Issue # 3, we learned the master key for unlocking the powers of our healing system: "Participate in getting well by developing a passionate involvement with life." Developing a passionate involvement with life means that we must pursue our dreams, our deeper yearning for the value of life and the meaning it holds. True passion for life means that in pursuing our own fullness of expression, we may suffer (by experiencing failure, rejection, loss or pain) but we can find meaning beyond our suffering.
In this Issue, we will learn how to live more passionately and in so doing, define for ourselves a deeper sense of our own wholeness and purpose in life."I WANT TO MAKE THE WORLD BEAUTIFUL."
There's an inspiring story told by Bernie Siegel M.D. (in his book Peace, Love & Healing) which illustrates the importance of developing a passionate involvement with life.
It was late February when a patient named John Florios was referred to Dr. Siegel for a rapidly spreading stomach cancer. Dr. Siegel advised John to have surgery immediately. John looked at Dr. Siegel and said, "You're forgetting something." "What did I forget?" asked Dr. Siegel. "It's springtime," said John, "and I'm a landscape gardener and I want to make the world beautiful. I'll come back later for the surgery. That way if I survive it's a gift. If not, I will have left a beautiful world."
With that comment, the patient left the office, not to be heard from again, until about a month later, when he returned to Dr. Siegels' office saying "The world is beautiful now. I'm ready." Surgery was performed and the first night after the operation, John looked great with no pain or discomfort, however the pathology report revealed significant cancer had spread to the lymph nodes and to the margin of resection. Dr. Siegel advised John to have chemotherapy and radiation. Once again, John replied, "You forgot something." "What did I forget this time?" asked Dr. Siegel. "It's still spring. I don't have time for all that." The patient was at peace with his decision to have no further treatment. He recovered rapidly from the surgery and left the hospital ahead of schedule.
Two weeks later, John returned to the office complaining of stomach pain, but it turned out to be a virus. Four years later, as Dr. Siegel was pulling a chart from a patient's room, he found the name "John Florios" on it. "You must have the wrong chart," he said to his nurse. "No that's the right one," she replied. "Then there must be two John Florios," puzzled Dr. Siegel, quite certain that, based on the pathology report, the "other" John was long gone.
When Dr. Siegel walked in the room he couldn't believe his eyes. "Why are you here?" he asked. John said, "I'd like to know what I can eat after a stomach operation." "Four years after! Anything!" said Dr. Siegel, "But why are you here?" "I got a hernia from lifting boulders in my landscape business," retorted John. In his usual style, John refused admission to the hospital and had the hernia repaired under local in the office.
Six years after his surgery, John was 83 and doing well. We don't know what's happened to his cancer. It may still be there, but John is alive and well.THE MORAL OF THE STORY
We cannot help but be moved by John's determination to follow his heart and to make the world a more beautiful place, in spite of the seriousness of his disease. His refusal to be defeated by his diagnosis is a forceful illustration of how passionate living can help activate our healing system.
But please understand that the greatest healing happens when we combine the best of medical science with the best of the human spirit. So please DON'T postpone surgery for a life threatening condition. Please DON'T refuse radiation and chemotherapy. Please DON'T avoid visiting your doctor for serious medical problems. Please DON'T ignore your doctor's advice and recommendations.
Please DO those things that give your life meaning and purpose. Please DO those things that help make the world a more beautiful place. Please DO those things that bring you and others a deeper, richer sense of what is good and meaningful in life. Please DO follow your own inner sense of what is right and true. Please DO remember that even in the face of our own personal tragedies, we can help to make the world a more beautiful place.WE ARE ALL GIFTED
I once saw a wonderful picture in the N.Y.Times that showed a teacher in her grade school classroom, writing the following saying on the chalkboard: "We are all gifted children. Some of us just open our packages sooner than others." This sense of divinity and giftedness lies within each one of us as our own natural inheritance. We all have within us the ability to beautify the world. We may not all have a green thumb like John Florios, but we can all plant a friendly word of encouragement to someone in pain. We can all plant a seed of hope to those in need of something to live for. We can all tend to the garden of our lives which has been entrusted us. We can all pull out those weeds which eclipse the unrealized beauty in our lives, and in so doing, make room for the yellow flowers and the green grasses and the flowing waters.HOW DO WE MAKE THE WORLD MORE BEAUTIFUL?
How do we make the world more beautiful? How do we bring a measure of joy and beauty to a world sometimes filled with senseless pain and ugliness? How do we find our own unique gifts and bring them to the world? The search for our own utter uniqueness demands that we go inside ourselves and develop a rich inner life, an inner reservoir of strength and creativity. Our very openness to follow our deeper longings, our deeper desires leads to the realization of our inner gifts, our inner gold. This inner reservoir of strength and creativity is the very essence of our healing system, the very foundation of our physical, emotional and spiritual well being.
Our inner life resides not in doing what the world and others demand of us, but rather in acquiescing to a greater calling, a greater pilgrimage: what we demand of ourselves. In following what is most precious to us, we realize our own potential to make the world more beautiful.
In the next issue, we will explore the possibilities for healing found in the first key for accessing our healing system: "Develop a rich inner life by following your true longing."
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