The Great Pause and Its Gifts for Living

Those of us who were aware of time will remember 2020 and the great pause. People created a lot of memes bidding farewell to the year. Sure, the chances are that there are other years in our lives that we’d much more prefer to relive if given a choice over 2020. However, the year of the great pause also brought its gifts.

For me, I completed a short book. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it because I never seem to have too much time to focus on my personal writing. Nevertheless, that’s one of the gifts that came out of the great pause. I realized, hey, time’s wasting. When are you going to get on with writing?

Uncertainty Brought by the Great Pause

The older I get (I can’t speak for anyone else), and through this pause, the more I realize that uncertainty is simply baked into life. If you happen to come back to this space, you’ll start to see glimpses of my life, and you’ll undoubtedly learn about how I spend my time. Hint: I do a lot of business writing!

During the 2020 pandemic, I wrote a lot about uncertainty and moving forward in business. However, we have to move forward in life as well. One doesn’t have to travel the world or even leave one’s hometown to move forward. And I suppose that’s one gift that served as a reminder in 2020 to get on with things that are important to me. Moving forward, in my view, meant writing—for me.

A Part of a Chapter of My Book

In honor of the great gift, among several, that came to me as a result of the great pause, I’d like to share a small section of the book I wrote while I was on lockdown. I wrote these words in the spring of 2020. By that point, we were starting to understand more about the pandemic, but today as I write this, we have several vaccines. In less than a year, a pandemic and vaccines—a first in human history.

Stillness in a Tempest

As I sit here reflecting on those early days before the lockdown, I think of the uncertainty permeating through so many aspects of our lives. I recall the early days as a period of rushing to get as prepared as possible before coming face to face with the inevitable—for the fortunate ones—socially distancing until we knew more.

Yet, in the uncertainty of the storm and challenges we faced, there came the point where there was just stillness. We all did everything we felt we had to do, and then we entered into the eye of the invisible storm that descended in the places where we lived until the entire planet was under its shroud. As I heard the birds tweet for the first time in the city where I live, I leaned into the idea that walking on shifting sand—being uncertain—was how it would be for the foreseeable future. Still, accepting those are the circumstances was moving on with life.

I have never had a disease, and I hope I never will, but in my dealings with people who have faced a dreaded disease, I’ve always seen a moment where acceptance permeates their existence. The stillness in a storm is accepting the circumstances, including the great pause of the global pandemic.

There is an idea that I’ve loved written by Confucius thousands of years ago, “The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” I’ve always thought that it aptly sums up how we should live life—be supple and bend with the winds. If you are rigid, the storms can break you during times of uncertainty.

And it was in acceptance that a friend and I talked about larger things in life…

April 23, 2020 During the Great Pause

Not too long ago, during this uncertainty, a dear friend told me she was thinking about the 10 most creative things in the universe that potentially proves the existence of a universal energy or God (whatever your beliefs). She said she asked people for their thoughts, and I gave her mine, which I’m sharing here.

To me, it’s not so much about proving or disproving anything. A universal spirit either is or is not self-evident. Some things I’ve experienced, but others not. Still, knowing they are there, even if I never experience them—makes life just a little more fascinating and extraordinary. So, here goes, and I’m sure others have other ideas about the 10 most incredible things in the universe.

1. A snowflake. One cannot top the elegant union of science, mathematics, art, and nature.

2. Aurora Borealis. Nature’s most magnificent light show. I hope one day to see it.

3. OM. The sound of the universe. It started when the universe was first created, and it still reverberates in nature.

4. Music. A creation of humans but the one thing that is indeed the universal language. It can also change one’s mood and allow us to communicate and connect with others of different generations or backgrounds.

5. Memory. Because it allows us to hold a piece of the past if we wish, and it helps inform our futures. And, it also provides for those serendipitous moments where a song, taste, or scent transport you back to a warm place in the company of people you may never see again.

6. Taj Mahal. One of the greatest expressions of love ever built.

7. Black holes. They are a mystery that we cannot fully grasp and have no way of finding out. I like to believe that there are other dimensions through there, and that’s where our energy goes when we die. (Oh, you didn’t know I had a Ph.D. in astrophysics?)

8. Curiosity and imagination. In a world increasingly surrendering itself to AI and technology, these remain uniquely human qualities and have allowed us to move from the Stone Age to where we are today.

9. The fingers and toes of a baby. Like a snowflake, elegant, and natural perfection. One day, I hope I can kiss the little toes and fingers of my grandchild. But, if not, I will have to borrow a baby. (I just realized I have not held a baby in 15 years. That needs to change.)

10. Love. Because deep affection, caring, and passion for anything or anyone always presents joy, creates peace, and allows us to hope. We all need to love each other more.

The great pause is coming to an end—at the very least, the last chapters are now getting written. Soon, we shall move into whatever our regularly scheduled programming we decide. Hopefully, it will be fulfilling, with more intention, kindness, and peace.

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