pause

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.   ~ Albert Einstein

Our life needs moments of interruption and intermission in order to recalibrate and reconstitute our overloaded systems and busy schedules. We are slaves to the clock that keeps ticking in our heads, afraid to waste a minute just in case we miss a deadline or opportunity for personal gain. The non-stop world of downloadable data has overloaded our capacity to cope and changed the way we do life, a reminder that there is no ‘end’ to every day or a break from that which demands out attention.

We have been deluded into believing that ‘wasting time’ is the curse of irresponsibility, the lazy persons excuse for not working hard or living off the proceeds of another's diligent contribution.

Unfortunately our significance is often measured by output, wearing busyness like a badge in order try to prove to others that we are worthy of their admiration and sympathy. This kind of need for commendation suggests that we have reached a place of extreme approval deficit in a world that is suffering under the weight of McDonaldisation.[1]

And then along comes ‘pause’, a carefully designed time out referee who raises her hands and halts everything on our behalf, who asks us to stop and notice our breath (take-a-breather) and listen to the anxiety and stress levels of our internal workings. If we keep making our extrinsic worlds the primary focus of attention then we will deplete our intrinsic stocks and die the slow death of dissatisfaction and despondency.

Like an angel of hiatus, she throws her hands in the air to say “cease and desist”, a divine envoy who is giving us the permission we very rarely give ourselves in order to help us discover a  a new way of being and doing in the world. She capitalises on our momentary doubt and uncertainty around our current mode of sustainability, something that often emerges as red flag in order to help us take stock and shift into a new status of life.

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"When we pause, allow a gap and breathe deeply, we can experience instant refreshment. Suddenly, we slow down, look out, and there's the world.” ~Pema Chödrön

This new status of life is a new way of seeing what really matters and what truly deserves our best attention. As I have grown older I have noticed a change in my energy levels, a very natural reason to pause and reconsider what I give myself to. When I was younger I had the energy to charge and drive myself with relentless ease, only to watch it catch up with me later with some kind of mental or physical deterioration. Like a bull in a china shop I needed to be seen and unavoidably obvious, only to discover that breakage is the only outcome when you haven’t learnt how to manage your environment.

As we master what it means to see the world differently we will allow more and more hesitation to have her way in us, a temporary interlude that enables us to slow and notice the not-normally-seen and find again that rapt state of awe in our surroundings, dwelling in it long enough so that its seductive powers have its way with us. The pause is actually the most powerful reproductive tool available to mankind, a transcendental invocation that allows the divine to interpenetrate our hearts and lives in incomprehensible ways.

Selah.[2]

1. McDonaldization is a term developed by sociologist George Ritzer in his book The  McDonaldization of Society (1993). For Ritzer McDonaldization becomes manifested when a society adopts the characteristics of a fast-food restaurant. Ritzer highlighted four primary components of McDonaldization:

Efficiency – the optimal method for accomplishing a task. In this context, Ritzer has a very specific meaning of "efficiency". In the example of McDonald's customers, it is the fastest way to get from being hungry to being full. Efficiency in McDonaldization means that every aspect of the organization is geared toward the minimization of time.

Calculability – objective should be quantifiable (e.g. sales) rather than subjective (e.g. taste). McDonaldization developed the notion that quantity equals quality, and that a large amount of product delivered to the customer in a short amount of time is the same as a high quality product. This allows people to quantify how much they're getting versus how much they're paying. Organizations want consumers to believe that they are getting a large amount of product for not a lot of money. Workers in these organizations are judged by how fast they are instead of the quality of work they do.

Predictability – standardized and uniform services. "Predictability" means that no matter where a person goes, they will receive the same service and receive the same product every time when interacting with the McDonaldized organization. This also applies to the workers in those organizations. Their tasks are highly repetitive, highly routine, and predictable.

Control – standardized and uniform employees, replacement of human by non-human technologies

With these four principles of the fast food industry, a strategy which is rational within a narrow scope can lead to outcomes that are harmful or irrational. As these processes spread to other parts of society, modern society’s new social and cultural characteristics are created. For example, as McDonald’s enters a country and consumer patterns are unified, cultural hybridization occurs.

2. one possible Hebrew word related to selah is calah, which means “to hang” or “to measure or weigh in the balances.”)