The Art of the Pause

pause and reflect

Andy Warhol’s Soup Cans never made sense…

Attending undergraduate studies at Colorado State University in the mid-80’s, three massive (almost 20 foot high) Campbell Soup Cans designed by the famous artist were displayed prominently on our campus. Who was Andy Warhol anyway and why did people care about his art – especially this type of art (if you could call it that)? I was there to get a degree and move onto the next step in my life. It seemed like a waste of space and attention at the time, a missed opportunity to focus our energy toward something that mattered.

A painting by that same Andy Warhol – the Shot Sage Blue Marilyn – sold for $195 million this month, making it the most expensive piece of art by an American in history. Maybe it was I who missed something.

Or what if we were to open the music vault and see what jumps out? The classic rock song played more than any other on radio stations across the U.S. is Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” At a surface level, it might be easy to write off this – or any other song whose genre may not be our chosen style – as rubbish. Simply good luck at the perfect time. Perhaps that is the case with some songs (I might submit Billy Ocean’s hit “Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Car” as a an example?). However, “Dream On” continues to garner significant play time 50 YEARS after the Steven Tyler-penned song was released. 50 years!! Could that track record point us to something deeper worth examining?

“Every time I look in the mirror, all these line on my face getting clearer” (the unforgiving ticking of the clock – and keep in mind Tyler was a teenager when he wrote the song). “Sing with me, just for today, never tomorrow…” (mindfulness brought front and center). “Dream until your dreams come true” (a call to keep dreaming through all the rough roads and discouraging time). Interestingly the song does not end with this calling to dream but rather one to sing through it all – whether or not they ever come to fruition. This classic contains multitude of powerful reminders for all our lives – and that’s just scratching the surface.

Whether music, art or literature, the exponential odds against any such creation ever being seen, heard or read are so extreme they’re almost incalculable. Yet some last. Some remain. When they do, maybe there’s a message worth considering within those treasures.

What does that have to do with health and wellness? Why would any of this matter to a current or future health and wellness coach or for our own lives? Plenty. None of the above happens without creating time and space for reflection… for contemplation… for considering the depth that exists when we go beyond the headline (which we discussed further here). Poetry, music, paintings, scenery, and artwork cannot fully be appreciated without a pause… a ponder… a purposeful consideration of what’s beneath the surface. And when it comes to health and wellness, there may be no element more significant than doing exactly those things. With the reflective pause, our breathing relaxes, our minds shift their focus, our heart rates slow, and our perspectives change. Simply stated: we become better versions of ourselves and thus are better able to be a catalyst for a world in need.

Is a bird’s song intentionally beautiful? Or is that just the bird being who it was designed to be? If we do not pause to hear the bird in the first place, does it even matter? And if nobody is listening, does the song we each sing cease to exist?

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