In 2016 after much deliberation, I selected my first OLW–Choose. Last year, for no real reason, I skipped the entire process. In all honesty, I hadn’t given it much thought this year either. Then on January 1st, I sat down to write and my mind wandered to OLW. Did I have any ideas? Almost immediately the word, Pause, popped into my mind. Hmmmm…. Where did that come from?
The word pause always reminds me of my youngest daughter, Lydia. When my children were young, we did not have television, but we did watch videos. Lydia quickly picked up on the value of the pause button and integrated that word into her life. We’d be playing a game or reading a book and she’d suddenly yell, “Pause it!” and dash off to do something (often involving a bathroom visit). Then a few seconds or minutes later, she’d return, say “OK” and we were free to resume our activity. The word pause certainly worked for her.
I started writing down some random thoughts, exploring the possibilities.
As I wrote, I realized that within a pause, there lies a world of possibility. Just think of how powerful a strategic pause is when reading aloud. We use pauses to gather our thoughts or to emphasize meaning. When one pauses, it’s an opportunity to make a change or to stay the course with renewed vigor or determination. While a pause can be seen as hesitation, there can be a deliberateness to pausing that appeals to me: A pause adds weight to whatever comes next. It creates space to make a better decision–to choose a more thoughtful response, silence a negative comment, decide not to push send, etc.
You also need to pause to notice and appreciate. Too often I get caught up in the day to day rush of things and forget to pause, to take time to connect with others or simply to relax and breathe. I rush past people, things and ideas without noticing them. Pausing opens up a space and makes room for these things.
Finally, pausing is a prerequisite for reflection. Nudged by my new OLW, I decided to take some time and look back over my year of photographs and then share and write about my favorites. (here) I’m so glad I did! The process was enlightening and crystallized some of my thoughts about photography and writing.
So this year, I’m going to take a page from my daughter’s playbook. I’m going to try pushing that pause button and see what happens. So far, so good.