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The Diagnosis

Chris Hennessy is a Film Maker, Author, Motivational Speaker, and producer of Yolo Yoyo's reality tv show. Chris is working on an upcoming memoir, Touched by Hannah

I decided to deviate from my usual post-coffeehouse routine. Instead of heading directly back to my home office and getting to work, I drove through the nearby foothills and cranked up the radio.

I was feeling down, but not for long. It's fascinating how music can lift you into a positive, upbeat mood. 

Sometimes just one song works. I'll listen to the same tune over and over. An adrenaline rush kicks in and my level of optimism increases with every play. It leads to a music-induced zone of euphoria.

This morning's song was Incubus' Earth to Bella. For an hour I drove through the Santa Teresa hills of South San Jose. Over and over, I listened to and became captivated by the melody and the words, Earth to Bella. The world can be an unfriendly place, So hold your head up, And do your best to save some face, It's not so hard, Just undo yourself and see a second sun. 

This is one of those instances where livelihood isn't as important as smelling the roses. I opened the windows, totally took my time, deeply inhaled the draft hitting me from both sides of my face — and cherished the seconds. There was no hurrying to get back to the office. Screw the office.  

One thing I realized on that drive was that trees are underrated. Many of us barely notice their majestic presence. They stand tall, mighty and add a picturesque quality to our neighborhoods. Trees are like us humans in two fascinating ways — they're alive, and no two trees are exactly alike.

Many of the Redwood trees here in Northern California have stood proudly in the same spot without complaining for up to two thousand years. Their limbs and branches catch the falling snow, wear and show it for us who notice to see.

Birds build nests and fill the streets with song. Squirrels scale and play Hide and Seek amongst the trees like we did as kids. Climbing and playing in trees was as important in my childhood as playing baseball and basketball.

Trees, like mail carriers, don't seek refuge during a rain-, sleet- or snowstorm. They provide shade on a sunny day. They offer shelter to all living things, while helping to reduce erosion and moderate the climate. 


We drive by in our air-polluting vehicles not noticing the trees helping to remove the filthy byproducts from the atmosphere. Our dogs urinate on them, and after a few beers we might do the same. 

I stopped to admire the exquisiteness of the branches of a Eucalyptus tree, and listened to the sounds and sights of its leaves rustling in the summer breezes. 

Most of us rarely observe their leaves close enough to know that they are broad, flat and thin, maximizing the surface area directly exposed to light and promoting photosynthesis.    

Photosynthesis helps to regulate the air quality. An 85-foot tall, mature tree absorbs nearly 50 pounds of carbon dioxide and produces almost 6,000 pounds of oxygen in a year — enough to support at least two people.

Leaves have extensively vascularized cells, more complex than any invented technology, that bring water and minerals from the roots into the leaves and increase absorption of carbon dioxide. 

When you buy fruit at the store, you may rarely have a second thought that it came to life on a tree. Humans and animals rely on tree nuts for nutritious and nourishing food. So many miracles within one glorious tree. But yet, arguably, the best thing about trees is their statuesque ambiance.

Since the moment I got up this morning and remembered my life-changing cancer diagnosis, I sure have lived my life as usual — maybe even better then usual. It's helping Big Time!

I headed back to the office ready to work. If it weren't for this diagnosis, I wouldn't be in such a good mood, nor would I have my new respect for trees. 

~ Chris Hennessy 

Excerpt from Chris Hennessy's upcoming memoir book, Touched by Hannah.




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