By Debbie Olujobi

Spontaneous reactions are occurrences most of us describe as unexpected and unplanned. Things we do without deliberate intent or forethought; explosions of sorts triggered by emotions on rampage.

The beauty of hindsight is that we actually give ourselves enough time to think about how we should have reacted and then see a different turn of events to those we most likely come to sorely regret. One of the most notable features of older people is their unhurried gait and pace.

They seem to have got the memo from heaven that everything and everyone can wait. Spontaneity and rash impulses get hammered out with time and at a particular age the wisdom of the elders is more a direct dividend of patience and energy deficiency.

A truly mature and wise individual knows the value of an extended pause; they know just how important it is to buy some time before giving in to emotions; anger is a tonic only for the mad!!

Pregnancy is one of the most trying periods for a woman and even those around her. The discomfort, pain, hormonal swings closely resemble some of the stuff one sees in science fiction flicks.

Pregnancy is that time when God presses the pause button in a female and sets about the creation and perfection of new life. For most women it is an experience that all the books and advice in the world have not prepared them for and a passage into real womanhood.

Time seems to crawl and every symptom drags out as if to test just how much one can bear. Eventually the body and mind is completely broken by the changes and the miracle of God is that women get the hang of it and even begin to enjoy it.

I can best describe pregnancy as a slow motion kind of life as one moves about 4 times slower than normal, and every thought is dissected and magnified to a horrifying detail; explains why women seem to cry at everything when they are with child.

While I wouldn’t advocate that the whole world comes to a grindingly annoying slow motion pace it would be great if we could all switch into a pregnant pause at times of great provocation!  To let the moments and Actions have time to settle and give ourselves time to gather our wits for a rebuttal, reaction or even defence.

One of the most interesting quotes I remember from my days of rampant reading was a quote in a crime novel. “Revenge is a dish best served cold; you should give yourself time to plan before execution”. I had been intrigued by that and the man in question in the novel was of the opinion that his children’s hot bloodedness was a weakness.

As you can rightly guess,it was one of the bloodletting best sellers that glorified the Mafia in the eighties and the old Don strongly believed that revenge was a matter of honour that had to be addressed thoroughly and executed with such precision that there would never be anyone left standing to ever avenge the act.

Now let me categorically state here that I am in no way advocating that anyone begins to plan some form of massacre and turn to serial killing as a hobby; what I am trying to say in my normal roundabout fashion is that reacting without forethought and calm emotions is just plain stupid.

Of late I have been so run down and tired that my calm demeanour is more as result of exhaustion and not enough power to react with any passion to even the most provoking of situations. I was telling that to a friend who was admiring my new found maturity and easy going manner; I had to confess that I didn’t posses that much maturity, the reality was that I didn’t have enough energy to invest in strife; plain and simple!

I finally got old enough to realise that energy is in short supply so it must be expended judiciously with a view of very lucrative returns; most fights give no returns and they are almost certainly never lucrative. This really has been my new behaviour except for a bad error in judgement not too long ago.

Recently I found myself in a fix of my own making and in the middle of contemplating how to get out of it I came up with the phrase pregnant pause. What I should have done instead of unloading years of suppressed resentment in an unbecoming diatribe was take a pregnant pause and assess the situation.

Let me start from the beginning, I grew up as one of those children who pretty much kept to themselves and said yes a lot. I initially thought saying yes would make people like me and normally never showed just how much some things hurt me. I was pretty much the same as an adult and this trait followed me to the university where I acquired a new friend.

I noticed my “friend” seemed to  be jealous of my little successes here and there and was very generous with information that should have been private and would have bad consequences for me. I overlooked many of these instances as I have always believed people are not 100% perfect and one should take the good with the Bad.

I have had the experience of taking quite a lot of the bad and recently just blew my top at a new one. I found myself dragged into the middle of gist I knew nothing about and playing a centre role in a drama not of my own making.

I am particularly sensitive to gossip and give it a wide berth and add that to jet lag and exhaustion I blew my top when this drama began to play. I didn’t just react to the situation, I began an explosive narrative that began decades ago and by the time I was through, you could hear a pin drop! Where’s a pregnant pause when you need one?

There is not much gain in wasting time on regrets and while I would have wished to have been my normal calm self in the above situation a part of me is glad I said my piece. I would have preferred it if it had been in a calm manner and not a screeching monologue but there you have it!

An employee of mine succumbed to a silly impulse and is today languishing in pain in a hospital for what looks like an extended stay. Having a fight on a motorbike turned out to be a very bad idea as the Okada man in question had decided to return an insult literarily face to face!

Would you imagine a rider getting so incensed he takes his eye off the road to turn his neck and look at his passenger and tongue lash him? Well that single decision has landed them both in hospital with fractures that are as ugly as they are painful.

A pregnant pause would have been my employee getting down on firm ground before starting a fight or the Okada rider offloading his passengers before engaging in a face me I face you fight.

I am really going to make the effort to drag out my pauses and make them heavily pregnant , to do like the elders do and spend time contemplating the consequences of my actions, hoping that the time I gain in the interim will let sanity overcome impulse.


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