Archive for the ‘Passion’ Category

Advice From a Landscaper-John Florios

July 17, 2011

I received this blog from Dr. Neil Neimark (How can I pass up a blog from a man named Neil?) and I would like to share it with you.

What Is Your Passion?

Developing a passion for doing good in the world is one of the keys to living a vital and healthy life.

But just how do we go about doing that? And just what does it mean to be passionate?

To answer this question, let’s look at the meaning of the word, “passion.” The Latin root for the word “passion” means “to suffer.”

In this sense, true passion means that in pursuing our own fullness of expression, we may suffer (by experiencing failure, rejection, loss or pain).

But, really, who among us wants to suffer?

No one really, but the key is this: It is only in our willingness to suffer (struggle) in pursuit of our values and dreams, that we unlock the hidden strength and vitality that helps us find meaning and fulfillment beyond our suffering.

Let me illustrate for you the healing power of living passionately with an inspiring story told by Bernie Siegel M.D., in his book Peace, Love & Healing.

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. Siegel’s’ 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.


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.

Be well. In body and soul,

Neil F. Neimark, M.D.

Neil F Neimark MD Inc

4980 Barranca Pkwy, Suite 207
Irvine, CA