Poet, writer, and activist Hannah Drake said something on Twitter, two weeks ago, during the moments after the mass shooting that is on my mind today. She said, “Louisville it’s okay to just pause for a minute. The meeting will still take place. The email will get sent. The phone call will be made. All the stuff will still be there tomorrow and the day after that. It’s okay to just sit for a minute.”
It is this quote, amidst all the other stuff I’ve read and digested over the last couple of weeks, that I keep coming back to. It’s a refrain in my head when I get rushed at work, and I reflect on how easy it is to let myself get bogged down in the mess of simple day-to-day living. I’m reaching the point where a pause is not only necessary, but mandatory. Sometimes, when we’re in the grind, we are hustling to meet the goals of an organization or ourselves and forget to check our own gas meters.
As I clocked in my 70th hour last week, I felt it. The heavy shoulders, the desire to stay in bed — despite commitments that normally are enjoyable but seemed like one more thing on top of a long week — came crashing in on me this past weekend.
I’m tired. But it’s not just me.
We all experienced a collective trauma recently. And every day in America, we are reinforced with the knowledge that that trauma will be repeated. Time will not slow down. Work will still go on, and we’re expected to “suck it up, buttercup” and perform.
Drake’s advice is the right advice for this time, and anytime. The world doesn’t collapse when we pause. We should have learned that lesson during the COVID shutdown. When we spent those two very scary but quiet and eerily calm weeks at home, the world didn’t stop when we stopped. The air grew cleaner. Waterways became clearer, and instead of cars, we could hear the world around us. It was a communal deep breath, and aside from the circumstances of the virus, we all needed that moment.
So this week, my editor’s note is this: stop moving. Read Hannah Drake’s words. It’s fine for just a bit to stop doing. We’ve convinced ourselves that “moving and shaking” gets us ahead, and we’re stumbling our foolish lives toward disaster. We’re making mistakes in places we shouldn’t make mistakes, angry with each other, killing each other, and in the process, ourselves. On top of it all, we are just not enjoying life, and I’m making that change a priority.
I’m slowing down. Some things might not get done as quickly, and y’all might have to wait an extra minute for a concert announcement, but you’ll still get it. I promise.
I’m making this claim to say, I want you to join me in ‘just’ a pause. ‘Just’ a moment so that we both can breathe, look at each other without the whir of movement, and acknowledge that we’re still here. “The meeting will still take place. The email will get sent. The phone call will be made. All the stuff will still be there tomorrow and the day after that.”
So, just sit for a minute, reflect on Drake’s very wise words. I’ll be sitting, pausing, resting with you. •