As I was doing yoga this morning, I started contemplating the importance of pauses—their ubiquitous necessity hard to escape. Commas clarify and slow us down before we reach the end of a sentence. Ellipses invite us to consider a jump in time or speech. Em dashes swoop in to rescue the reader when commas overstep their happy little bounds, or we just feel like bending the rules of grammar a bit. And then there’s the good ole semicolon, waiting eagerly like a happy dog, wagging its tail mid-sentence; I just love pauses. …
… They’re everywhere. In a good movie, we have exposition to give us a break from the intensity of action sequences and dramatic turns of events. In novels, we have flashbacks and descriptive passages to fill our minds with images and possibilities. In paintings, we have negative space, saving our eyes and souls from sensory overload. In music, we have cadence, which governs the flow of sound.
Pauses serve a vital purpose. They provide balance in the chaos that is life. If we didn’t have pauses, everything would happen simultaneously, and it would be impossible to enjoy the in-betweens. When I was a dancer, I would often wait for the shift in cadence. It was my invitation to explore the notes further. Just like a good musician provides his or her own interpretation to own a piece, we as writers, editors, parents, friends, artists, spouses (i.e., soulscrammedinsidehumanbodies) provide our own unique interpretations to our lives.
You didn’t think I was going to forget the parentheses did you? The granddaddy of pauses. The sure thing in any technical proposal replete with interminable acronyms and examples. Like a good parentheses, we need to cocoon ourselves with pauses—be they short or long in duration. It doesn’t matter what kind of pause it is or how long it lasts. The important thing is that we embrace the pause, allow it to envelop us like a sleepy day in summer. By doing so, the edges soften. Deadlines seem less daunting. Pain is given an escape route. Sentences that appear to be written by ESL students on acid suddenly become reparable.
This post is an invitation to all of you to embrace the pause, to take some time to become curious if your edges have sharpened, to explore any given moment, and to allow your breath, your next comma, your eager semicolon to soften and escort you into the next moment. …
To read more of Diana’s work, visit www.dianaceres.blogspot.com.