Just Push 'Pause'
by Martha Nelson
I’m a Type-A sales person, so when one of my friends would dreamily ask, “Wouldn’t you like to take a 6 to 12-month sabbatical someday?” my response was always: “Well, that’s never going to happen – so why even think about it?” Mostly, I was used to being busy and liked being busy.
Then in mid-March 2020, it happened. Like many of us, I was grounded due to the Covid-19 epidemic and unable to return to my work face-to-face with the customers I enjoyed seeing. It was a sudden sabbatical – but also one I needed more than I realized.
The first weeks were an adjustment to a new routine – no traveling, more resting; no networking, more connecting with family at home; more reading, more gardening, more walks. Less time shopping, longer hair! More cooking because I enjoyed cooking versus meeting a need to feed everyone. More phone calls and cards to isolated elderly aunts and uncles. A deeper appreciation of the medical professionals and carers who CAN’T pause because they’re taking care of others. A complete switch of focus and gears. Hey, I even started to like this. Although I am too young to retire, it gave me a vision for how retirement could be.
This year many of us have started sharing ourselves in more generous ways with our neighbors and community. We’ve discovered home-grown ways to entertain ourselves, maybe less screen time. For the Type-A’ers amongst us, we’re discovering that “pushing the pause button” can be a good thing. (Isn’t that what our friends and family have been trying to tell us for years?) When you can’t do the things you once did (at work, for example) to prove your worth – it’s possible to discover roles that are more lasting, e.g. that of parent, neighbor, carer, spouse, friend.
I’m learning in a new way that we were made to have rest times when we set everything else aside. As individuals we need that; we were made that way. That “pause” time can give us the perspective and energy we need for whatever lies ahead. Even in music, the “rest periods” when the instrument or voice falls silent, are important parts of the whole piece.
Someday this epidemic will end – it will. But hopefully the positive things we’ve learned this year will make our “post-Covid” lives richer – and yes, more restful too. I hope that we can all take away something from this distillation of our time to make our lives and others’ the better for it. And that when work is “back to normal” we won’t forget what we have learned when someone pushed the pause button for us.