strengthen life any time that we listen generously or encourage
to find meaning, or wonder about
possibility, or dream or
escape from self-judgment and
inner criticism, or know
matter. Anytime we share someone's
joy, we bless
the life in them.
does this as naturally as she breathes. Her own life has not
been easy; nonetheless she is a celebrator, a deeply happy
person. Although she has had two episodes of colon cancer
and many professional disappointments, her joy in life is
tangible. I smile whenever I am in the same room with
her. So does everyone else.
She is always one of the
first to celebrate someone's birthday, to remember anniversaries,
to congratulate people on their successes, whether she knows them
well or not. So Jesse is one of the first people to call
when something good happens to you or someone you love. She
is there to listen to the whole story with delight. Often
when you finish talking to her you feel even better about what has
happened, luckier than before.
as we were sitting in a doctor's office, awaiting the lab results
of her six-month chemotherapy checkup, I had asked her about her
joy in life. Her own life had been so hard. Didn't she
feel envious of others who had things she did not? She had
smiled at the thought and shaken her head. "Then what
is your secret?" I had asked her, laughing. Suddenly
serious, she had replied that it seemed to her that joy was not
When I looked at her, baffled, she
explained she has found that if you are genuinely happy for them,
people are very generous with their joy and share it with you
openheartedly. "When something good happens to the
person next to me, I am there to celebrate it with them.
Their good luck makes me feel lucky. I rejoice with them
about it as fully as if it was happening to me," she told
me. "It makes me really happy." She paused
and looked thoughtful. "Of course, then it is
happening to me," she said with a grin.
Jesse was first diagnosed, her cancer had spread beyond her
bowel. Despite this, her surgeon had operated and removed as
much of it as he possibly could, but he could not remove it
all. "We need to keep her comfortable for as long as we
can," he told me. But that was fifteen years ago.
It makes you wonder. When you strengthen the life around
you, perhaps you strengthen the life within you.
itself is truly a blessing,
a great collection of short
on life, living, beauty, and the wonder
of it all,
from the perspective of a
doctor who's seen so much of it it
means to be human and to be happy.