Finding JOY in Medicine
We all can learn a great deal from reading great writers
On Sunday, January 31st, 2021, I received a text message from my friend, Reza Manesh. Reza informed me that he was ‘almost done with his book’ and would like me to “review with a critical eye and provide feedback to make it better.”
I did review the draft. But it was the book that made me better at finding joy in life through the fantastic work that is part reflection and part memoir.
Today Reza (as he likes to be called) is a leading voice in medical education. As he tells in his recently published book – Finding JOY in Medicine – the journey was not easy. But through learning and developing three essential attributes humanism, humility, and desire for growth – he has discovered joy in medicine, and I would argue in life too.
Finding JOY in medicine is not about any particular destination. Having read the book several times, I am convinced it is not just about medicine. It is about authenticity, humanity, humility, and vulnerability. Reza reminds me of Walt Whitman’s quote, “I am large. I contain multitudes.” This is a story of multitudes of our shared humanity, humility, and wisdom through the story of Reza. The wisdom that I have noticed is the one that embodied moral elements out of Reza’s very own moment of suffering and learning, which comes from compassionate regard for the fragility of others.
Finding Joy in Medicine should be required reading for everyone, particularly my generation. It is a reminder that we should not chase: a job for money, compliments, imitations, job titles, influence, or shortcuts to learn. Reza reminds us to pursue: quality time with loved ones, a healthy lifestyle, work that brings joy, ways to help others, opportunities to learn and grow and show gratitude.
The main character in the book is not Reza, or his patients, or other doctors. It’s AGHA JOON (Persian-Farsi for grandfather – Reza’s grandfather). He was not a doctor. He was an ordinary man, and there was just something extraordinary about him.
The book starts with AGHA JOON’s poem. This is just a reminder that we read poetry because the world is more than the facts, laws, and realities. Life is indeed way too short, and AGHA JOON and Reza remind us that perhaps poems will make it last a bit longer. So we can all find JOY…