8.09.11 The Beauty of Pauses & Punctuation

Four weeks passed. And no post here. How does that happen? I could tell you how in early July I suddenly hopped on a plane and flew cross-country to see just how “things” were slipping for my father, how that four-day trip filled up with visits to doctors and health food stores and Target (to buy him a bicycle) and to other family. How five days after I returned from that trip, I flew out to Taos to lead a group of supreme writers through a wonder/yoga/writing course and offer a reading at UNM Taos Summer Writer’s Conference. How ten days after I returned from that trip, I led a group of remarkable people through the immersion portion of a Yoga As Muse training – which ended this morning. How in between there, I showed up for clients and my wife and daughter.

But you know this story. It goes like this: You get busy. And something you love slips away. And once you let it slide, you’re tempted to let it go completely even though you love it. It’s one less thing to tend to, you say.

But that thing I love in this story is this very site and the dedication it holds: To honor each day as a god and to reflect back to that day what is worth remembering, capturing in electronic words, and broadcasting to the blogosphere.

In one way, it’s just when we’re busiest that we likely most need to make space for paying attention, remembering, writing – for Three Highlights. Because here’s the thing: Every single day of the past four weeks in my story has been rife with memorable highlights. Essays and poems full of highlights. I did take notes. They just didn’t reach this spot.

Do I regret that hiatus? Only if I’ve disappointed any of you loyal readers.

But here’s another thing: This month-long pause helped me appreciate the beauty of this simple game all the more.

We need rituals. They punctuate the day with meaningful pauses. And for me, Three Highlights is such a ritual. It’s the space between sentences in my evening paragraphs (And I for one would argue that space is the most compelling punctuation mark :)).

And now that the busy season has closed, I plan to honor the beauty of pauses more intentionally this coming season.

What about you? Have you taken any pauses these days from regular activities, pauses that in turn helped you love that activity all the more?

Whether yea or nay, I’d love to know your three highlights from today. Post them below – and as always let us know where you’re writing from.

(And, by the way, drop in at Jen Louden’s Savor & Serve Cafe where she posted some of my reflections on living the day with wonder, savoring, and serving.)

See you in the woods,



9 responses to “8.09.11 The Beauty of Pauses & Punctuation

  1. I can feel the space in your writing- and I love your quote, “space is the most compelling punctuation mark”. I find pauses so critical in my day to day, it’s indescribably. I take deep breaths as often as I think of them and try to meditate for 20 minutes daily. Without a doubt, the silence pours meaning into all that I do.

    As for where I am now… taking a break from designing a magazine in the offices of PiDesign in Camarillo, Ca.

    Thanks for the wisdom.

    • Thanks, Matthew, for dropping in and for sharing your practices. Right: ‘the silence pours meaning…” Thanks, too, for the elephant drawings at Artsurfsoul. Congrats on the design break.

  2. J- I too just wrapped a 5wk vacation and find myself struggling to get back into the rhythm or my work day and my son’s school day, anchored by small daily rituals.
    -the morning cup of coffee while watering the orchids
    -the view of the windward side as my bus prepares to enter the pali tunnel
    -a new ritual, watching my son and his friend board the bus to high school (yikes, how did that happen!?) from my kitchen window as i feed the cats.

    kailua, hawaii

  3. Glee – Good to hear from you. I thought some readers might be coming off of vacation and struggling with the ‘transition back.’ That’s one tricky thing about prolonged pauses.

  4. 1. Seeing my writing group friends whom I’ve met with for 20 years…through cancer, divorce, moves, cancer, marriage, babies, teens, and many losses and wisdom
    2. Eating a salad of arugula, watermelon, and lacy fried sweet potatoes. Wow.
    3. Teaching yoga to my co-workers and putting on the ocean during savasana….
    Austin, TX P.S. My big pause will be a this weekend’s birthday away from writing, home renovation & doing

    • Lowell, Jon, Robin – Also great to have you back.

      1. Settling into John Denver’s words: “Hey, it’s good to be back home again./Sometimes this old farm feels like a long lost friend.”
      2. Following my daughter’s command to “Seat!” beside her on the back deck so she could put her head in my lap.
      3. Holding my wife in my arms as we sat on the screened porch, the torrential rain rattling the roof.
      bonus: Soaking in all of the remarkable highlights of the past month among family, clients, writers, and trainees!

  5. Welcome back! I was beginning to miss the practice of 3 highlights; it does deliver a great pause to think about life and our movement forward.

    While on a quick break to N. CA, soaking in the mountains and river waters soothed my soul and mind. Spending time with my sons built some bonds and, hopefully, some memories. Having some alone time before they all return gives me some time to center my thoughts.

    Pausing is good. Really enjoy reading your return!

  6. Jeff, we took advantage of your hiatus to go on our own so we’ve been saving up a lot of highlights. These are just from yesterday while taking a car tour of bluestone in our county:
    1. A man’s name carved in a bluestone carriage step in an extremely detailed 19th century style where every letter looks like it’s made from entwined branches. Imagine carving that into stone!
    2. The wall of a church by Rondout Creek in which the mason-genius carefully chose different colors of bluestone and interweaved a stone fabric of tan, yellow (yes, bluestone can be yellow!), and bluish gray into an artful composition, a kind of tweed in stone.
    3. An exhausted stone quarry out near the reservoir not far from the road, a few feet of water filling a space the size of a football field below the cliffs, now filled with green leaves and muck, but surviving for a while at least as history lying not far from the road.

  7. oh yes, how I did miss this little group of wonderous ordinary moments! welcome back all.