Photograph: Jim Marsden
Often, it is in the pause that the ‘eureka moments’ occur. These days more people seem to have their ideas in the shower than the bath, but that probably just reflects the change in bathing habits. The drama of the ‘eureka’ moments makes for a good story, so sudden inspiration often gets most of the attention, but without the pregnant pause that gave birth to them, there would be no such moments at all.
“What seems like dead time often leads to the most compelling experiences.”
This pattern doesn’t only occur with conscious acts of creation. A pause creates space for opportunities of all sorts. Take travel, for example. What seems like dead time often leads to the most compelling experiences.
This happened to me in the windswept town of Uyuni, in Bolivia. I arrived quite early and was wandering around, feeling too lazy to find a hotel, when I bumped into Jacques, a Frenchman I had met on the bus. ‘There’s a truck leaving for the Salar [salt flats] in fifteen minutes,’ he said. ‘For six dollars they will take us to Chile. Do you want to come?’
Had I found a hotel instead of loitering aimlessly, I would have missed everything that followed: the salt flats, the stars seen from an altitude of nearly 4000m, drinking schnapps with the Chilean border police, the British cyclists that appeared like a hallucination out of the desert, bathing in a hot spring with a condor overhead, and so on.
No pause, no such possibility.