In the hustle and bustle of life, where everything is governed by the clock, it is hard to just stop for a minute and take stock of life. There is work to attend to, food to prepare, goals to accomplish, commitments to meet. When does one stop and take a pause? And doesn’t taking a pause interfere with everything that needs to get done?
That was very much my life prior to getting cancer. It was a life of activity, of immense productivity and of getting things done. Sitting still was not an option. Indeed, it was a great life! However, through this journey with cancer over the last 9 months, I have learned to relish the time I have to reflect, to slow down, to think. No longer does the clock govern my time; rather it is the natural rhythm of life and of listening to my body that defines how I use my time and live my life.
I now live more in the moment. I make time to spend with family and close friends. I have started reading voraciously again. When I have the energy, I focus my time on things I want to learn and on initiatives that are important to me. Every Sunday, I consciously think of 5 things I am grateful for and jot these down. It is almost as if I have replaced the quantity of what I accomplished pre-cancer to focus on the quality of my life. It is my way of taking a pause.
This concept of taking a pause was reinforced by a commencement address that Maria Shriver gave to the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication in March 2012. Shriver is a journalist and was married to Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Governor of California. She urged the graduating class to take a pause. In her words, “pausing allows you to take a beat — to take a breath in your life. As everybody else is rushing around like a lunatic out there, I dare you to do the opposite.”
There is great wisdom in what Maria Shriver says. What if we were to consciously pause a couple of times a day and just take in what is happening around us? What might we see? What might unfold for us?
We could pause when we don’t know what to do to give us perspective on what can be done. We could pause when things are not going so well in our lives and see what we can learn. We could pause when we are happy and savour the moments that memories are made of.
Our natural inclination in today’s fast-paced world is to press that fast forward button and to cross things off the list. It takes a certain courage and consciousness to first press the pause button and see what gifts it might reveal. To listen to Maria Shriver’s full address — take a pause! — and watch the video below: