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Heretics, dangerous ideas, and all things extraordinary. Welcome to my blog.

Feb 09

Pause your life.

What we can learn when we take a break.

“Pause the book, Daddy!”

Luna, my 3 year old, understands the world through the metaphors of devices and media. No use wringing our hands about how much our world is changing due to social media and omnipresent screens, andthere’s no use bleating about how different the world will be for our children.

Despite all the hikes, hours in the playground, and social events, this is going to be something our children use to understand and make sense of the world. The best we can do is provide them a diversity of experiences that show balance in their world.

But what happens when we take a pause? What do we notice when we stop doing the things we normally—and occasionally compulsively—do? What happens when we stop swimming and look at the water? I hadn’t thought much about this until I realized that a little girl believes that she can pause anything in her world.

This has been a year of breaks for me. I set this weekly update aside a couple of months ago in order to reflect on what I most want to contribute to this community. A little over a week ago, I opted out of social media for an indeterminate period of time (if you got the heads-up on this from Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, it was automatically shared by electronic minions). I have taken breaks from organizations, activities, hobbies, foods, and even people this year. Here’s what I am learning:

  • Absence doesn’t necessarily make the heart grown fonder. More often than not, the things I pause aren’t nearly as interesting as what I replace them with—even when the replacement is downtime. After a couple of days of habitual twitches, I don’t miss Facebook much at all. Same with wine, writing, sweets, etc.
  • Don’t call it a comeback. What I come back to, I come back to differently. After a break, I don’t write the same. I don’t run with the same mindset. I don’t take dessert for granted. You don’t step in the same stream twice, and you aren’t the same when you come back to once-familiar constants.
  • Pausing is a conscious choice; the status quo is a habit. It frankly amazed me that a 3 year old could essentially stop time with a word or a gesture. But then I realized that anyone can, and that she knows something that most of us forget—what we do with our lives is ours. We can stop and start almost anything. We just forget that we can.

What did I do with all that time? I’ve been reading a lot more, writing something new (a short book on startup teams), and spending a lot of time asking what’s really important to me. I’m ready to get back to doing this update on a weekly basis. I’m not sure when or if I want to go back to social media, at least not the way I have in the past. I know that I want to stop every now and then and step out of what I take for granted so that I can make choices with fresh eyes.

What do you want to pause?

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