Pause for thought

In a world of abundance, it is necessary to pause for thought to avoid losing orientation in the face of an unlimited number of possibilities. To pause – for thought allows you to consciously experience the abundance. For example, pausing while eating can allow us to realize that we’ve had enough. Just as space gains order through cleaning up, time preserves its quality through regular pauses.

Pausing also helps in developing new maxims of order, which is the more necessary as the declining, dominant dichotomous structures of interpretation (active/passive, theory/practice, male/female, mental/physical, and so on) increasingly lose influence and do not offer an orientation for a good life. By pausing—for thought, new reference structures develop which leave more room for the in-between and the „not only… but also.”

Pausing means interrupting everyday routine and opening yourself to a different understanding of time in which the eternity of the moment can be anticipated. Pausing opens space for presence of mind and creates fertile ground for desire. Many religious practices support this, such as Sunday rest, the Sabbath, meditation, ritual prayers, periods of fasting, moments of silence, pilgrimages, and so on.

Especially the traditional economy, which is geared toward continual profit maximization, opposes a culture of pausing. Economic interest groups and stakeholders strive for constant production. Idle time to pause is considered unproductive and should, as far as possible, be eliminated. Even in agriculture, which is generally subject to a rhythm of working and rest periods due to its dependence on biological and climatic processes, continuous productivity is now often pursued. The need for pause in their work and consumer behavior is to be driven out of people, for example, through flexible work hours and constant consumption opportunities. The epidemic rise of depression and burn-out symptoms is a helpless reaction to this flow of ceaseless activity.

Voluntary pauses, such as self-determined unemployment or parental leave, are often disparaged. As a rule, people interrupt their daily routine only when they are forced to do so by circumstances such as illness, unemployment, or misfortune. Often the consequence is exclusion from social relations. Since there is hardly a culture of pausing, there is uncertainty about how to deal with these people who have been thrown out of everyday life. Therefore, in addition to their problems such as illness or unemployment, they are also confronted with social isolation.

Even in these enforced periods for pausing, new and perhaps unexpected perspectives and potential can develop. It would be better, however, to deliberately allow space and time for pausing as a recurring normal state at both individual and societal levels. 

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