Enjoy Every Sandwich
Enjoy Every Sandwich: Living Each Day as If It Were Your Last
By Lee Lipsenthal
“We all die. This is the nature of life. At some point, life ends, but this book is not about that moment, it is about what leads up to that moment,” said Lee Lipsenthal. “It is about healing the most basic fear all humans share: the fear of dying. It is about the life we can live only after we heal this fear and all the other fears that accompany it: the fear of pain, the fear of loss, the fear of change, the fear of not being enough, the fear of not being loved.” Lipsenthal was a doctor, researcher, acclaimed author and speaker, and president of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine who also served for ten years as medical director of Dean Ornish’s Preventive Medicine Research Institute. Although he knew that a healthful diet and exercise were important, Lipsenthal said that the patients he worked with had not found a “new lease on life through broccoli.” Instead, they were people who had looked death in the eye and had come away from the encounter with a renewed drive to “live fully, love well, and embrace every precious moment of their mortality.” When he himself was diagnosed with terminal lower esophageal cancer, he found himself curiously at peace and unafraid.
“Facing my mortality, chemotherapy, radiation, and especially the inability to help those whom I love has made this the most challenging period of my life so far,” he said, “but simultaneously, I have felt more gratitude and more freedom and peace and life than ever before.” He discovered that life holds so much more than we can possibly imagine, but surprisingly, so does death. While his work brought him into contact with some of the world’s greatest physicians and healers, upon whom he was able to call in his time of need, he learned that what is more often needed is a change in our mind-set and way of being, a willingness to “stop racing through our busy lives, working, providing, and consuming. Some cures,” he said, “require that we stop and enjoy every sandwich.”
Lipsenthal died far too young but not before he had learned that the very fear of death could be cured. “I knew that we no longer have to live with this fear invading our lives in countless ways,” he said. He became one of the people he had always most admired: those who were dying and yet were fully alive. “After all, we are all dying,” he said, “some sooner, some later. The real exception is to truly live.” His book holds the story of his conscious dying, but it really has more to tell us about what it takes to live each day so fully, so joyously, so richly that should it turn out to be our last, we could honestly say that it was “a good day to die.”