The pause is a suspension of activity often used in speech with little forethought or consideration. For example, the awkward pause that occurs when someone says something so utterly absurd or confounding you are left speechless. Then, there is the pregnant pause, fertile with meaning but not a word is uttered to explain and an extended silence drops down over the conversation. For the uninitiated, it is difficult to distinguish the awkward from the pregnant in almost all situations.
Then there is the comedic pause, part of the timing of a joke or comic skit. A few masters have passed along the secret of generating laughter by artfully using the pause. Think Johnny Carson, if you’re old enough, or Jerry Seinfeld who held a peculiar expression while he paused, as if to underline the hilarity of the situation or what someone had just said, often having to do with awkwardness or pregnancy.
Last in my list is the pause that refreshes. You know, Coca-Cola, although I think they’ve moved on from that tagline. When it was new, it felt good: take a pause while you drink it, enjoy it, don’t drink absentmindedly or just to douse your thirst.
All told, I like my pauses plain, straight up. Take a break, sit back, look out the window and smile as if you just thought of the loveliest thing. Don’t worry if someone’s looking. Strike a pose and hold it while gazing up into the sky. Put down your pen and look out the window. Start to tell a story and then stop midway. See if anyone asks you to continue. This could be awkward or elegant.
Give the pause a new moniker and see what happens. If asked, say you are contacting your muse, or practicing a trance state. Try that and see how it goes. Who knows, you might develop an appetite for the suspension of activity, a moment that some call “being in the moment.” This just might result in a new way of seeing things, open up the imagination, precipitate a rush of new ideas and, if you are lucky, result in pages of new prose.