Weekly Message from T. J.

Pausing the Show

The shelves in my apartment are half cleared of personal items. Some of the surfboards are here; the others are gone. Things I’d never eat are still in the fridge, waiting to go. My roommate’s move-out is on pause.

A friend says he’s thrown out the schedule he was keeping with his three kids and his wife, that now they kind of all hang out, playing, laughing, doing some work when they can. My friend’s plan is on pause.

And the streets in some cities are so quiet that it looks like a snapshot from 3 am is stuck in place, like life is literally paused.

A lot about this experience in the past weeks makes me think of the high-concept film, The Truman Show. Probably the best screenplay Andrew Niccol has written so far, The Truman Show has a lot of twists and plot points that I fear I’d divulge by talking too much about them. But one aspect of the plot is that all of the people in the main character’s world are sharing in an enormous project, acting together and synchronized in harmony, to further a shared objective. And sometimes everyone in the main character’s world has to change direction—they pause.

I hear a lot of people talking about losses now. We look at what we may be taking for granted because we lose it. We look at what we value more because its loss seems somehow more likely or possible. And the losses many of us are feeling, of freedom, of community, of work, among many other things, are very real. And the effects will be felt by many for a long time. We are also looking at what is continuing and what is new. We wonder at the ways technology is connecting us and how some things are actually improving.

And then there are things that are seemingly on pause: a move-out, a daily schedule, midday traffic. There are others, surely, and there will be more. And for me, these are like the moment between breathing in and breathing out in meditation or in plain old fashioned, everyday respiration. We take in so much that is new now. We let go of what we’ve been holding on to now. And in between the two, somehow in an instant, we notice what is simply paused.

In The Truman Show, the hero comes to some realizations about the world around him. And in both comic and dramatic ways, those realizations force him to question the very nature of his own reality and the realities of those around him. Until at last he takes a break, a pause. And it is only out of that pause, and the conversation he has in that pause, that the rest of the life he chooses to start can ever come to be. As much as what we find and what we lose may be moving in and out of us at this time, it may well be out of this pause that we see clearly how best to live our lives at last…even if it’s with someone else’s surfboards in your living room.

And may it ever be so.

Yours in love and aloha,
Rev. T. J.

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