“Wow,” someone recently commented, “you have a hard job.” The person was referring to the trauma stories I get told, I suppose, or the heart wrenching difficulty of informing a family that their loved one has a probable Alzheimer’s dementia, or the challenge of advising someone that their recent injury prohibits their return to full time employment. But if I ever get to the point where I’m not saying difficult news in order to protect myself, I need to find another gig. The truth is, some days it’s a “hard job” but mostly it’s an honor to witness bravery and resilence. People bring genuine, tough honesty to my office every day. And sometimes I have great news to share about treatment possibilities and areas of clear strength.

I’m reminded of a quote from James Doty, M.D., author of Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart. In discussing a clinican’s path, Dr. Doty wrote, “… This path will take you to life’s deepest and darkest valleys where you will see how trauma and disease destroy lives, and sadly you will see what what human is capable of inflicting upon anohter and even more sadly what one human is capable of inflicting on himself. But it will also take you to life’s highest peaks where you will see the meek demonstrate strength you thought not possible, cures for which you can find no explanation, and the power of compassion and kindness to cure human ills. And by doing so you will see the very face of God.”

Yes, injuries and illnesses that affect the brain are serious topics. I spend a lot of time pouring over mechanisms of injury and healing, neuroscience and cognition. But in the end, all science talk aside, I’m continuously amazed by the simplicity and healing power of kindness and compassion.

— Jennifer Geiger