Author Next Door: George Kleiber

The artist, the cardiologist, and the litterateur.

By Grace Meyer

As a painter and a retired cardiologist, Kleiber can now add author to his list of accomplishments. His book, The Art of Wisdom, combines all of his interests into one.

“I’ve been painting since I was a child. I always liked painting. I almost went to art school when I graduated high school. I actually had a scholarship to go to art school,” Kleiber explains.

At the same time, Kleiber also had a scholarship to attend a different college to study medicine. He could still study art, but it would be sidelined to his science studies.

“I thought I’d be a medical illustrator.”

The more Kleiber got into science, however, he realized he wanted to become a physician.

“I got really into the physiology of how the heart works,” he says.

It was at that time Kleiber realized that cardiology was his true medical calling.

However, Kleiber didn’t let his studies be restrained to medicine, and his love for the arts drove him to the humanities as well.

“The humanities make you much more of a well-rounded person and a more interesting person,” he says. “It helps you adapt to changes in your life.”

For example, Kleiber believes that when people come into his office with a story, he should listen and try to begin figuring out the problem before running a bunch of unnecessary tests.

“I’ve always liked story-telling, and I think that [patient’s stories] are an important part of being a physician,” Kleiber states.

Kleiber’s book, The Art of Wisdom, is a filled with his work as an artist as well as short chapters on everything from connecting your passions to gender roles in art. The idea he finds most important in the book, however, manages to combine all of these topics.

Kleiber recalls a story he heard about the Dali Lama.

“The question the person asked [The Dali Lama] was ‘What’s the biggest problem with humanity?’ and the Dali Lama said that the problem was man, then, he explains that the problem with man is that he works so hard at his job to make money, Then he works so hard to make money that he sacrifices his health. Then, to get his health back, he spends money. But the problem is that he doesn’t get his health back. Then he worries about the future, so man doesn’t live in the present. Then he thinks he’s never going to die. Then he dies, and when he dies, he didn’t live in the present, the future, or the past.

“A lot of people have that linear life the Dali Lama talked about. What you need is an inner life.”

Kleiber links this concept of “inner life” to the topics he talks about in his book, saying that the art and stories should help “fill your inner life.”

The Art of Wisdom can be found on Kleiber’s website, www.georgekleiberart.com.