time out

I have this little ceramic stone. I love the way it feels in my hand. It’s the perfect size and shape and feels smooth if I rub it with my thumb. It says, “PAUSE.” A dear friend gave it to me nearly twenty years ago. It’s a Rae Dunn word stone. You can still get them except I don’t think Rae does the “PAUSE” one anymore. It’s perhaps not as popular these days as “LAUGH” and “HOPE.” And I get that.

Rae Dunn has gotten older just like the rest of us only she still seems the same adorable genius waif she was twenty years ago. Rae Dunn is in Italy right now sketching, painting, looking pensive in a soft linen dress. My friend Nancy is in Africa. She sold her house in Berkeley and has since traveled to Mexico, Central America, France, Portugal, Greece. Last week she visited the Casbah (I know! That one!) and just the other day she rode on a camel with Berbers in the Sahara. Everybody seems to be going somewhere.

Me, I went for a walk in the park today. And yesterday. And the day before that. I am not a world traveler or a famous artist. I am a retired teacher. I’m taking it easy. I took a spill on an evil area rug last week and my ribs still hurt. The body has given me a perfectly good reason to rest up. I’d love to be more productive, more interesting, more active. Still. There’s something about that word, “PAUSE,” that I’m celebrating at this moment. Something in this feeling of not accomplishing anything special that is very, very special.

I hear the revving motors out on the street, the pounding and power saws going at it at any number of remodel jobs nearby, and the yelling of neighbors and passersby. I want to slow down, be quiet, pause, take a breath. Because I think right now that constitutes doing something very important. It doesn’t mean the same as “cease” or “give up.” Pausing doesn’t mean you’re lazy or boring or irrelevant. It means there’s a fall after every summer – and a night after daylight. It’ll time to bring in the harvest, get cozy, be still, rest up a little for whatever comes next.

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