Love in a Vacuum

Love in a Vacuum

I once gave a brachah to a friend that she should be married for so long that all of the handles should fall off of her pots and pans, as they are falling off ours, boruch Hashem. Although truthfully, we haven't been married for nearly as long as the pots would have you believe.

Our family boldly takes household appliances where no equipment has gone before, or was ever meant to go. We once wore out, in six months, a floor that came with a ten year warranty. Unlike the unhandled pots, for which we have perfected the sport of using with multiple potholders, when it comes to vacuum cleaners we usually need to replace them every year or two. This means that we often have the most recent model of whatever is presently on the market. Our new vacuum has a dust container that creates a small tornado when it is on. This lets us know we are truly tearing up the place!


I decided that before the holidays, I would give the house one of those really great vacuuming jobs. You know, where you get into and under every surface, actually attaching the edging gear and all. I lugged the machine up to the top floor and fired her up. Although it was leaving those wonderful “just vacuumed” marks, it just didn't produce quite the sparkle I had expected. I pulled out the attachment hose, and felt the strong suction. However, looking through the clear dust container, I noticed that there was no tornado. Not even a breeze. I took the filters out, banged them on the bricks outside, (heaven forbid I should actually go out and buy new ones!) and put them back in. This worked well the last time the vacuum stopped picking up. Still no tornado in the dust bucket. Hmmm. Upon further examination, I located the problem. The short hose that began at the brushes and went into the body of the machine was clogged.

I got to work. I unplugged my trusted friend, laid her back so her breathing passage was unobstructed, and started pulling stuff out of her trachea with my fingers. Amazing how much was in there! When my fingers could no longer reach the clog, I grabbed a crochet needle. Perfect tool for the job. Although the pile on the floor was quite impressive, there was no light coming through yet. When my crochet needle could no longer reach the obstruction, I found a kid-sized pool cue. With a few pushes, I had her cleared, and an even more impressive pile on my carpet. I looked down into the tube, and saw what was likely the instigator of the problem. There was a large sewing needle stuck in the hose and lying across the opening. Likely, most things were able to go past it, until one piece got stuck. Then other things got backed up behind that piece. Slowly, the amount that got stuck increased, while the volume that could pass through decreased. Although it was still leaving those just-vacuumed tracks, almost nothing was passing through. Interesting.

We had all been commenting to the child whose job is to vacuum, “Are you sure you remembered to do this room?” With the pace of life being what it is, we never thought to check the vacuum. I wonder just how long it had been clogged and not picking up. And how long had that needle been in there? I took some pliers and gently removed the needle. I cleaned off the brush roller, started her up, and did that tornado whirl!

But life doesn't happen in a vacuum. Or maybe, sometimes it does.

Sometimes, in any type of relationship, a blockage can occur. A hurt. A place where someone is not heard or validated, or perhaps their trust or honor is broken. Although we may try to get past the hurt, sometimes it just gets stuck there, blocking the flow of our relationship in a minimal and sometimes unperceived way. We can go on managing just fine, but other things are getting stuck on that hurt. Some of these may otherwise not even bother us. If we ask a mashpia, she may look at us as if to say, “Come on, can’t you just let that one go?” We can't seem to, though. The Yetza Hora convinces us that the offense is connected to the original hurt and that makes it important to hold on to.

We continue gathering more “stuff”: misunderstandings, oversensitivity, intolerance. These obstruct the flow of giving, bringing distance in the relationship. The noise from not feeling connected hums in the background of our day. We start to get that tired feeling; the enthusiasm gone. We may all of a sudden notice that although things are still functional – we are, after all, still leaving those “just vacuumed” tracks –tiime together is… well, not quite what we have grown to expect or desire.

We may then try to reboot the relationship in ways that have worked before. But for some reason they don't do it this time. We just can't seem to get back in touch with the emotions we know we have – or once had. Those strong feelings of connection are not felt. Where this has been going on for a while, you may hear someone say, “It will never go back to the way it was.” Sometimes, Chas v' Shalom, they may even say, “It was never really good,” not able to remember or believe how truly powerful and delightful this relationship once was.

What can we do? We need to stop and give some thought to where the blockage occurred. What was the hurt? The piece that we have not been able to get past or bounce back from? When was it that the healthy need to give, connect and get closer started to shut down? Once the source of the problem is identified, it can, with some effort, be removed, and the flow of sholom and brochos restored.

Now that the light in your relationship is again shining through, you will be able to see your connection with your friend/parent/child/sibling/spouse again. It is also likely that you will appreciate that bond more than ever before. Like teshuvah, when done properly, a good cleaning-out can leave us feeling closer. In fact you may wonder how all of those small things could have ever bothered you so much. Why, now, they flow peacefully right on by!

I will leave you a brachah that you should be married for so long that all of the handles should fall off your pots and pans, AND the tornado should never cease to fly in all of your cherished relationships!


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