This morning, on the way to day camp, my daughter asked how many words there are in the world. I replied that there are millions of words and they’re all in dictionaries. I offered to sit down with her and go through one.

She asked why there are so many words and I explained that words help us get more specific about things and feelings. A moment later though I pointed out that often times the more complex the words are the more complicated they make things, and that when things get more complicated we often lose sight of what we were trying to communicate in the first place.

As a filmmaker, and photographer, I think a lot about specificity, communication, and balance. Often times we don’t communicate what we think we are communicating, and sometimes, when we are subtle we think that people won’t get the ideas we’re expressing. It’s important for us to point to the important details but also keep the big picture in mind. In visual terms this translates into close ups, medium shots, and wides.

With our stress and illness film we are struggling to find a balance between these issues on and idea level. The deeper we go into the story the more amazing connections and details we find. However, it’s incredibly important for us to remember that we want to communicate to a very broad audience. As such we need to stick to broad ideas and be careful about which details we highlight. I can see this when I get excited about the film and begin to focus in on the details. Some people get excited but many people quickly become overwhelmed.

This morning I opened a mass email from Dr. Ben Kim, who often writes about practicing simpler, more holistic medicine.

On a number of occasions over the years, I’ve had
conversations with oncologists who wanted to educate me
on the differences between various options within their
cabinets of chemotherapy protocols, and when I’ve brought
up what we should be thinking about with rest and nutrition,
in most cases, I’ve encountered an air of, “are you serious?”

This feeling of “the more complicated the better” exists
with almost every medical specialty. I guess health care
has just evolved to become what it is, where drugs and
procedures are paid for by insurance premiums, and the
more complicated the health issue and treatment plan are
perceived to be, the greater the fees.

Sometimes it is only by zooming out that we can see the big picture. I thought about this yesterday as I walked through the meadow behind my house. Last fall I started taking pictures and focused in on the milkweed plants and the bugs that called them home. They reminded me of “Whoville” from “Horton Hears a Who”. I came upon the plants for the first time at the end of their life cycle last year, so it’s been interesting to see them at the beginning this year.


I have been amazed at how quickly they grow, and I’ve loved seeing the cycles of their flowers, as well as the bees that pollinated them.


Yesterday I saw my first milkweed bug. Today I saw the first pod. For the bugs, this small patch of plants is their world. For the hawks that soar above their world is the meadow and a small patch surrounding it. I imagine that the sense of knowing the limitations of their worlds gives them a sense of balance. I am trying to keep this in mind as we begin to shape the film, and as we try to bring balance to our lives.


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