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QUINTESSENCE

Pause and Reboot

There are no second acts in American lives
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Friday has arrived. I have a terrible head cold. All I want to do is lay on the couch and watch the tennis ball pummeled in the French Open finals. Outside the sun is curtained behind a high strata of clouds that say today is off sides. Not in the spot lights. Not today.

A day to pause and reboot. To catch a nap and a moment's reflection. When Fitzgerald made his famous quote, he was referring to the grandiose characters that inspired "The Great Gatsby." A story of lives lived large and to the limit. When you crashed, you failed. When you stumbled, it was the end. No second acts.

Great tragedies often spool out this way - high stakes games without a catch-net. Yet I recently watched "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," from the eponymous book of the same title by Jean-Dominique Bauby. This intense and unforgettable true story is a tale of fierce determination and imaginative adaptation. When everything is taken from a man at the peak of his life, leaving him only the movement of the blink of one eye, he faces within himself a choice - give up and die, or engage with the world on his own terms. This book, and the deeply moving film directed by Julian Schnabel, is a result of Bauby's decision to confront within himself the crushing skid of tragedy, to describe and express the coming-to-terms his soul was now forced to engage in. And in that process, he discovered what his life really meant to him. In loss, perhaps an unexpected gain. Pause, and reboot.

I think its wise for all of us to occasionally reassess the rhythm of our days, the compass setting we plot our goals by. Sometimes, like Jean-Dominique Bauby, reassessment is forced upon us by drastic changes in life circumstances. I like to think the human soul is the most resilient of sails - where there is a will, a wind will arise. I put my faith in second acts.

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