PC 33 Pause, Paws and Pours

Rush! Rush! Rush! Is this what we do? And how often do we cry: “Stop the world, I want to get off!” remembering that show from the last century. Today I’m reminded we do need to pause occasionally, if only to draw breath!

“What is this life if, full of care, we don’t have time to stand and stare…..  No time to see, when woods we pass, where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.” I often used this quotation from the Welsh poet WH Davies to get clients to think about creating space in their busy lives, to actually acknowledge that life was to be enjoyed. We get caught up in the doing and give no time for thinking, not allowing ourselves to pause. For what is this life of ours if we don’t give ourselves time, time to pause …. and look …. and wonder …. and marvel?

Creating space between ‘doing things’ is actually very important to our emotional health. I love expressing ideas in pictures, so when confronted with a stressed client, I would say: “Imagine you’re holding a bucket of water, and I ask you to walk down to the end of the room and come back, as quickly as you can. When you turn around at the end, some water pours out of the bucket. Do this a few times and you have no water! Your emotions are like the water …. so when you get to the end, pause, allow the water to come to rest, (2 seconds? That’s all it takes for sure!), turn around and come back ….. with a full bucket of water.”

You may recall my discovery back in December last year of a grammatical construct called a Zeugma (see PC 26)? For some time I have loved people using alliteration, where continuing words start with the same letter, as in “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper” …. or “dragging the lazy languid line across the rocks”. I gave Celina’s father a copy of Lynn Truss’s book ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves” for his birthday and, whilst fluent and extremely knowledgeable about English, he’s marvelling at the easy complexities of the language that Lynn discusses. What other language can have, for example, ‘hear and here’ or ‘there and their’ and each word meaning something completely different from the other.  I am drawn to words which rhyme with pause for this PC – words which aurally are identical, as in pause, pours and paws, and it’s only the context which allows us to understand the meaning.

The gift of the 15 minute timer by Someone for Christmas got me thinking more about time and its use. “Why don’t you do ….? I’m asked. “Because I chose to do other things which take up my time.” “So make time!” “Oh! But if I wanted to, I would.” And you remember that the sand pouring into the bottom half of the glass ……. paused!

My favourite animal with paws is Pooh Bear. Read “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoof. It’ll help you understand in simplistic terms us humans. Here’s Pooh “standing … and … staring”:

“I say, Pooh, why aren’t you busy?” I said. “Because it’s a nice day,” said Pooh. “Yes, but …” “Why ruin it?” he said. “But you could be doing something important.” “I am,” said Pooh. “Oh? Doing what?” “Listening,” he said. “Listening to what?” “To the birds, and that squirrel over there.” “What are they saying?” I asked. “That it’s a nice day,” said Pooh “But you know that already.” I said. “Yes, but it’s always good to hear that somebody else thinks so too,” he replied.

There is a contradictory nature to our lives, with people singing about having ‘all the time in the world’ in one breath and in a second bemoaning about having wasted this precious dimension, as in ‘Lost, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.’ (Horace Mann)

Our washing machine has a spin cycle that lasts for 13 minutes. When it indicates ‘1’ you imagine you have one minute before it bleeps and you can open the door. But this is an Italian machine and time can move slowly. That one minute can sometimes last 5; the frustration while waiting for it to turn to ‘0’ for the door to unlock can test the patience of a saint.

You’ve heard of the expression “As boring as waiting for paint to dry”? In August last year I heard of an experiment which has been running at the University of Queensland in Australia …. since 1930 ….. and it must be even more boring! It was set up by physicist Thomas Parnell to illustrate that although pitch (tar/bitumen) appears solid, shattering when hit with a hammer at room temperature, it is actually a very viscous liquid. A container of pitch was set up and they waited for a drop to form at the open bottom. They had a long wait – 8 years! By August 2014 the ninth drop had formed, having taken 13 years. And the sad thing? That the scientist overseeing the experiment for 50 years missed it three times – the last time in 2000 because a power cut put the recording instruments out of action!! Think of this experiment when you’re rushing around, not pausing between doing things!

Often one pauses to collect one’s thoughts, focus one’s actions – such as when you are about to serve in a game of tennis, or about to squeeze the trigger of a rifle, or when you are about to ‘go about’ when tacking on a yacht, to check that everyone/everything is ready. Or when a lion is on its tip-paws (aka tiptoes!) ready to launch itself at some potential prey.

Mere scribbles and thoughts!

Richard Yates – richardyates24@gmail.com

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