Inventor Charles F. Kettering once said, “You will never stub your toe standing still. The faster you go, the more chance there is of stubbing your toe, but the more chance you have of getting somewhere.”
Going Somewhere is something I really like. Going there fast? Even better. I used to joke that my middle name was “over the top.” And I thought that was a good thing.
By necessity, I am learning more and more about pausing, which is funny because I learned about pausing a really long time ago. And then I learned it again. And again.
And then, again.
Why do we forget to pause when we get agitated or revved up? Why stop the fun? Our brain may be thriving on the sense of “getting somewhere” as the above-cited worthy scholar said.
“We don’t need to wind down if we don’t get wound up.” I remember the first time someone told me that. Confounding. Confusing. Why wouldn’t I want to get wound up and go fast? Because moving forward is not always indicated, even when it feels like it. Sometimes being still is an action. A profound action. The best choice. “Don’t just do something, stand there,” says the American Zen koan.
“If you just sit,” Suzuki Roshi said, “everything changes.” Suzuki Roshi is the man who essentially brought Zen Buddhism to America. He asked, “What could be more simple than: just sit,” in the quest for happiness. Yet here, today, we are always urged forward without time to pause and wonder.
There has got to be room for both, don’t you think?
learning to pause is a very hard thing for me. I am new to zen and find that I have a very active monkey-mind. But, I continue to practice and things are seeming to get better.