|example of a caesura in musical notation|
They've been following me, caesuras, these recent weeks. After the balloon sighting, my husband pointed one out the other day in the hymnal at church, wondering what it was. It's a reminder, I think.
Living in balloon country, you get used to balloons, and yet, you never really do get used to them, either.
When you see one, inevitably, you stop whatever you're doing to gawk at it for a bit. Or you hold your breath for just a moment, with a little gasp.
How often do we do this? Stop the routine, mindful of the break in regular meter? In poetry and in music, the caesura gives the work meaning, draws attention to what will come next, sets expectations. In life, too.
Students returned from a much-needed fall break this week. Midterms made the atmosphere so tense that any ripple might cause someone to burst into tears; many of them see midterms as a final judgement, not a caesura. And perhaps it would help if we could reframe them as an equally important "break," a pause before the next phrase begins.
But equally, I think, we need to find multiple moments between phrases, when we're--as one of my students put it--"traveling at warp speed and [still] feeling that you're not moving fast enough." I used to do this with a weekly yoga class; now, leaving early and getting home late, I've lost that predictable (but also unpredictable) pause. Even my drive home is filled with chatter. Clearly, more and more students find themselves ill-equipped to pause, too.
I've been working, with some colleagues, on the framework for a retreat that inspires students to do just this: stop, reflect, set goals, check in. Maybe the planning will do me some good.
Not that the reminder in the sky isn't welcome.
What do your caesuras look like?