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The Pause

Just a tiny button that packs a lot of impact. A tiny mechanism on devices that once pushed, stops the whole shebang. It is on everything. Computers, cellphones, DVD players, Netflix, Hulu, iPads...if it plays, it pauses.

So the modern world sees how very much we all need to temporarily pause something, life, a movie, a call, a documentary, a video, a chat. Life interrupts. Life requires that which you are doing be stopped so that some other facet of life be given center stage for a moment.

But humans do not come out of the factory with pause installed. This is something we have to develop over time. We have to first understand that we lack it, which can take an entire lifetime. But if we are lucky enough to see early in our lives that we lack, then we can begin to practice it. We do not come with that setting as a default. We come lock and loaded for bear. We are hardwired to go, go, go, slowing down only to sleep...the rest of our lives an almost frantic busyness until we are dead. Ok, maybe that is just me...nope, it is all of us to varying degrees.

There have been so many times in my life where I wished somewhat desperately that I had a hard wired pause. I knew that what was presently occurring needed to be stopped and evaluated more dispassionately. But my early life was spent pushing through, whatever it was, I was a steamroller and whatever did not move out of my path, I just rolled right over, only stopping when something landed in my path large enough to stop my steamrolling...and let me tell you, there are not a lot of things in life that are really capable of stopping a steamroller. Addiction. That was a hard stop. Other than that, pretty much nothing else ever really had enough impact to get me to alter the steamrolling course.

Addiction did and that was the beginning for me of the pause. My initial willingness to stop drinking myself to death on the daily was the first time I really paused anything. And I did that with a great deal of fear, resistance and general pissedoffness. Unbeknownst to me at the time, stopping drinking was the very beginning of my pause button installation. And I have been hitting that fucker ever since. On the daily.

I have a GREAT idea - pause

I think I should tell you something - pause

I am angry - pause

I am afraid - pause

I think - pause

I feel - pause

I want - pause

I ____ - pause

It is the perfect antecedent to my habitual response to life...pause.

Yesterday I was upset with my daughter which almost never happens. She is a good kid and really gives me no trouble. But lately, she has been really distant, unwilling to take care of her responsibilities and quite self involved. Now, she is 14. So this is normal. But its normalcy doesn’t mean that I have to like it or appreciate being treated like a doormat. Her unwillingness to care about me or what I have requested of her or the tasks that she has willingly taken on, has become an issue for me and yesterday I was hot.

I had a few things that I wanted to say...I mean I REALLY FUCKING WANTED TO SAY THINGS! Loudly. I mean, a lot of things...

But I didn’t. I let her know that she had let me down AGAIN. But I did so without all the melodrama that I wanted to pour all over the situation...I just made a statement then shut the fuck up. I disengaged. I did not speak anymore. Which for any of you who know me, know that this was a historic and momentous occasion. I have a big mouth and am only marginally successful at keeping the words inside it.

But yesterday I sat in the pause. I didn’t say anything else, I didn’t pile on. I just sat with the words, building up in my throat like a major freeway pile up. The pause jackknifed in my throat causing the oncoming vehicles of relationship destruction to be thwarted and held back. Pre-wreckage if you will...

So I didn’t have to make amends later. I didn’t have to apologize and now begin to build back up that which I tore apart. I was able to just leave it right there and wait for a less intense emotional time. And I am still waiting...

The pause can last seconds, minutes, hours, days. I can allow the powers that be to help guide me as to whether this pause is a tiny interruption or a major shift. But what I gain from the pause is immense. I have time to do something other than my first idea, which I have found, is almost always wrong. This compulsive behavior that insists on being expressed preventing me from being able to really get to my true feelings, because I am tethered to this habitual response that always sends me on the same road, disconnection.

I need the pause to stay connected, to God, to myself, to others. If I do not pause, I do damage in my relationships and that brings about disconnection. And that is not what I am aiming for over here. I want to be connected to others, to myself, to the universal good will. I want that, and I need it. But without my willingness to practice waiting, I am screwed every single time.

So much happens in the pause. It is the suspension of habitual response time into something else. Something that is not completely in lock step with a trauma response, a learned behavior or a compulsion. The only way that I break free from all of that is to wait for something new to arrive.

Waiting is hard. Pausing is harder still. But I have learned that the only place where I am granted access to intuition, my gut check reaction, is by pausing. I must wait and then I am allowed access to that part of myself that is free from the past, the conditioned, well worn grooved response. The pause sets me free and delivers me to the place where I have only a passing true self. Without the pause, I am just delivering ego fed bullshit designed to distract, dismay or delight you. It is just a show.

I mean think about it...what if you were sitting in a theater and waiting for the show to begin. The lights go down and you wait. The cast and crew making you wait a few moments longer than is comfortable to begin. There is magic there. The pause allowing you to adjust yourself and relax a little, sit back and savor that you are about to be changed by what you experience...but if you are required to wait too long, either yourself or some other non-pause trigger happy person will demand to be satisfied, demand that their need for immediate gratification be satiated. But if the pause is too short, the play begun, everyone misses the import of what is to come next, their compulsive drives not thwarted at all and everyone’s individual steamroller rolls on.

So the magic in the pause is in knowing how long each pause should be...allowing for some divinity to occur and move you forward just in time before some other compulsion takes over but not before your habituated demand commandeers the moment either. And this is why the pause is some tricky shit. Timing is everything in the pause, which is why, it requires practice, practice, practice. Practicing the pause increases its strength and magnitude. Waiting always just long enough for a new thought, idea, feeling to bubble up to the conscious level.

Pausing is not factory installed and for some of us, it takes a lot of time, effort and energy to gain even a passing knowledge that the pause could and would benefit us if we were brave enough to practice. So caught up in our own compulsions that we never even see that there might be another option. Without the pause, we just continue to roll along with fear, anger, resentment driving our lives, wrecking pretty much all the good shit that comes our way. The pause knows though, that it is in the magic of waiting one second longer than you think you possibly can that something wondrous happens. And life is altered because we were willing to sit with our own discomfort one second longer than we could yesterday. And this has been recovery for me, sitting in my own pain one second longer than I could yesterday. Or twelve minutes ago. Pausing allows me to stop the incessant steamrolling and relax into the wonder and magic of my life. Who knew? The fucking pause did, every single time.

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