I recently realized that I pause before everything that I do. When I have a notion to do something – get out of bed in the morning, speak to a stranger, begin a difficult task, indulge in a guilty pleasure, give aide that’s been requested, push back against an unreasonable demand – I almost always pause a moment to consider.
This was possibly a very powerful insight, because I understood immediately that there are so many things I’d like to do that never get done because of this pause. But it’s only potentially powerful because much depends on what I will do with it.
Pausing is often a very good thing. It can and has kept me from doing irrational, impulsive things. But the truth of it is that pausing mostly keeps me from things I ought to do. It gives me time to consider risks, to count possible costs. It allows me to be ‘reasonable’, which the coaches at Landmark Education were always quick to point out generally means ‘ordinary and safe’.
Pausing keeps me from exposure, maybe from embarrassment and shame, from being overextended. But it also keeps me from putting myself on the line, from pushing myself when I really need to, from just going for it. Pausing has generated so, so much procrastination and delay, so much avoidance.
I need to do away with this always, automatic pausing. I know that there are lots of times I have not paused, sometimes to the extent of surprising myself. I’ll have to consciously try and remember more of those times, because my sense is that they usually led to something very good.
I had another insight many years ago, which ties directly into this one: that most of my life’s regrets are not about ill-advised things I did, but about the things I did not do.