Museums and the Marathon Man

The Washington Post article by Christopher Ingraham (June 13th, 2014) says it all "There are more museums within the U.S. than there are Starbucks and McDonald's - combined." Quite accurately we expect of museums as important cultural and academic institutions; however, they're also quiet superstars of the show business . consistent with The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), with over 800 million live visits annually, their attendance exceeds that of all theme parks and major sporting events combined. But America's museums are far more than popular and numerous; they're cultural and academic gems that play an important role. they're community elders that tell the stories of our American neighborhoods. Mamie Bittner with The Institute of Museum and Library Studies (IMLS) stated within the Washington Post article:

"Many of those institutions, particularly in small towns and rural areas, are historical societies and history museums. We are crazy with our history - at a really grassroots level we look after the histories of our towns, villages and counties,"

The story of how I came to go to and admire numerous small museums begins nearly eight years ago once I faced a scary scenario. Diagnosed with prostatic adenocarcinoma my doctor's instructions were clear and blunt. "We caught this thing very early; lose some weight but by year's end lookout of this." Taking care of this meant either an operation or radiation. He was confident that either procedure would be sufficient; nevertheless, i used to be scared as hell. once you hear that diagnosis, "you have cancer", thousand things race through your mind all directly , yet somehow the entire world stops at an equivalent time. What are the treatment options... I even have to research each treatment... I even have to research the surgeons... what if i do not make it... what happens to my wife... what happens to my family... i would like this thing out of me... how does one research these things ... i would like this done before the top of the year... why me... why not me. My mind was racing, racing, racing. Who do I tell? When do I tell them? Should I tell them? My mind was just racing, racing, racing.

It was June 2010. i used to be 54 years old, a professor, husband and father. Earlier that year my wife had been hospitalized for 34 days. Should I tell my wife? Would this aggravate her condition? She was already worried about being unemployed. Do I tell her? Our three sons were beat highschool and doing reasonably well; the oldest would start college within the fall. Out of worry would my oldest boy forgo his athletic scholarship to remain home together with his ailing parents? albeit he did attend college, if he knew i used to be battling cancer how would this affect him academically? Who should I tell? Do I tell my boys? Do I tell everyone? Do I tell no one?

I once heard somewhere that "we get older and become our parents." How true that's . Although it didn't occur to me at the time, I'd seen this example play out before in 1969; i used to be 12. at some point my dad asked me to return with him to his doctor. This was strange; he had never asked me to travel to a doctor with him before. We visited St. Nicholas Park, Mount Morris Park, Central Park , baseball games, museums and grocery stores. On Sundays we walked to newsstands to shop for the ny Times and Daily News. Afterwards we'd come home and eat big southern style Sunday breakfasts - smothered chicken, smothered pork chops, grits, gravy and biscuits, never rolls - always biscuits. We did tons , but he had never asked me to travel to a doctor with him. I should have known that something was up, but I didn't.

The doctor's appointment happened on an early evening. The office was located on the primary floor of an apartment house and it had been dark outside. I sat within the lounge while my dad met privately with the doctor. That day his doctor told him he had six months to measure . My dad a tall, quiet, dignified WWII vet said nothing. We went home and he acted as if nothing had happened. He kept it all to himself. Yet twenty one years later, and long after his doctor had died, my dad was still alive. He told nobody this frightening secret for all of these years. Finally, in 1990 he spoke with me about what had happened thereon day way back in 1969. once I asked him why he hadn't said anything he had a classic answer, "Hell, I wasn't gonna die to only to form the doctor look good." to the present day I still do not know if he ever told anyone else.

In 2010, 41 years after my dad was told he had six months to measure and said nothing to the family, I became my dad - absent the courage and dignity of the WWII vet. Initially I told nobody . I did however hear my doctor's advice and commenced power-walking aggressively to lose the load . I weighed 308 pounds. This was the start of a journey. Little did i do know it might transform my health, my body and to an excellent degree my soul.

I elected for a robotic prostatectomy as treatment. Recognizing that i might be hospitalized for several days i used to be forced to mention something to my wife. Every husband knows that disappearing for several days without telling your wife may be a guaranteed death sentence; cancer is merely potentially lethal. We sat down on the front room sofa on a Sunday around 7pm. it had been the evening before I'd be admitted to the hospital. This scenario gave her little or no time to linger over the matter; I had to be at the hospital early subsequent day. As I had feared, she broke down and commenced to cry and as soon I uttered the word cancer. We agreed to not tell our sons; we both thought it'd cause them to stress .

Fortunately the operation was a hit . Neither chemotherapy nor radiation was required. Several months later I resumed my power-walking. Over time a routine evolved. I prefer walking outdoors in parks (no matter the temperature) to treadmills and tracks, mornings are better than evenings, warmups last 5 - 7 minutes, weekday walks last 45 - 50 minutes, weekend sessions last a minimum of 90 minutes and eventually , most sessions end with 7- 8 minutes of stretching. I walk 4 times per week during cold months and 4 - 5 times per week during warm months, I also found a really reliable partner, music from the 70s, 80s and 90s. My partner also gets along fabulously with an ancient Sony Walkman. Who knows, perhaps this partner is my subconscious whispering to job my memory of long lost youth.

While I don't claim to be a really religionist , being outdoors in parks (which are in any case tiny forests) sweating, breathing and among the overall splendor of God's nature is usually a spiritual event. The cancer has now been gone for nearly eight years. Over that point 70 pounds have melted away and my diabetes seems to possess disappeared, or at the very least be controlled. Along the way i started to enter races; I power-walk but compete against runners. Half marathons (13.1 miles) and 10Ks (6.2 miles) are my favorites. Being somewhat vain, before entering my first race I checked the days of the runners to form sure i might not finish last. initially I entered local races. Later a colleague, who may be a runner, told me about the Philadelphia "Love Marathon" which I competed in. This lead me to research races in other locations. Now, I visit participate I races. However, journeying to different cities only to participate during a single race seemed hardly to be an efficient use of your time and travel. I needed another activity to go with the racing. this is often how I developed an interest in small museums.

I had some experience with researching museums. Years ago I had begun exploring museums as excursion venues for top school students. At the time I supervised a university program that provided various activities for at-risk highschool students. The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) provided an excellent deal of data for our program. Later, as i started to seem for museums within the cities and towns i might be racing in, AAM and a number of other other museum related organizations like The Institute of Museum and Library Service (IMLS) and Museums of the planet (MOW) became valuable resources. One incontrovertible fact that immediately became clear is that America is that the undisputed museum capitol of the planet . consistent with MOW there have been an estimated 55,000 museums located in 202 countries in 2014. IMLS, (a U.S. agency) states there are 35,144 active museums within the us alone. Assuming these data are accurate, over 63% of the world's museums are located in America. The IMLS 2012-16 Strategic Plan points out "There are quite 4.5 billion objects held publicly trust by museums, libraries, archives and other institutions within the U.S."

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