Ride the Vacuum Cleaner

I actually had a different post planned for this week, but I was driving home last night and I caught part of an interview with film director, Ken Burns, who is part of the documentary series inspired by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee’s powerful book “The Emperor of All Maladies: a Biography of Cancer.” The interviewer was asking Mr. Burns what pulled him toward this subject. Mr. Burns revealed that his mother had coped with cancer throughout much of his early childhood, and had eventually died when he was eleven. He stated that he felt as though every day of his life since then has been impacted by cancer. (Right about now, you might be wondering why I am talking to you about a film director. Hang on. I’m getting there. I promise.)

Mr. Burns said that the thought of cancer as something frightening, and shared a story from his family. He explained how his daughter, when she was very little, was terrified of the vacuum cleaner. He said that her terror persisted, until one day, she walked into the room with the loud, scary monster–and sat on it. He explained that, to this day in their family, when they talk about doing something that is scary, they say it’s time to “ride the vacuum cleaner.”

I love that analogy. It is such a good fit for our real life. Because there are a lot of things that feel large, scary, and overwhelming to us. Much like a vacuum cleaner would look and feel if you were a small child.

Finish reading this post here.


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