A few weeks ago I went out to dinner with a friend. We were talking about the speed with which AI was developing. I had recently heard a podcast that speculated about what would happen if someone used AI to startle the financial markets. Perhaps by having a voicebot imitate Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, saying that the bank was nearing insolvency. All agreed it would trigger panic on Wall Street, markets would tumble sharply and so quickly before anyone realized what had happened.

Then what?

I wondered to my friend, who works in finance, whether they would be able to pause the markets. Even rewind all transactions that had occurred since the false panic.

We agreed we don’t really have those mechanisms in place. Perhaps we should not just in AI or finance but in many aspects of our lives.

If you’re at home watching events unfold in a movie or sporting event on TV and you feel as if you’ve missed something, you have the option to pause, and yes even rewind.

In life however, we seldom use this pause button, let alone rewind to see where we went wrong and correct our actions.

The speed of life and the constant decisions we need to make to keep up with it, can seem like a cruel game of whack a mole. We are more likely to act on reflex than reflection.

We see this in our politics, our business, and in our personal lives. We respond to texts and emails with immediacy but without due consideration. We make daily decisions that affect others decisively but without much deliberation.

We have a built in bias towards action as we feel as if we need to be doing something right now to respond to whatever challenge or opportunity lies right in front of us.

Yet sometimes hitting pause or standing still is the only way we can properly evaluate our situation and keep things from getting out of control.

In her poignant and moving song, Noah (Stand Still), Noah Cyrus documents the advice her father gave her at a critical moment in her life. The singer/songwriter was struggling with addiction issues, a toxic relationship with her partner and the loss of her grandmother with whom she was incredibly close.

The song opens with these lyrics:

When I turned 20, I was overcome
With the thought that I might not turn 21
Death upon my doorstep, if I took just one more step
There’d be nothing left of me, except these songs
And my father told me
“Noah, when you don’t know where you’re going
Just stand still, soon enough you will
And when all the hope and joy you feel turns into paranoia
‘Cause it will, remember, just stand still”
Just stand still
Just stand still, oh

As the world whirls, the demands we and others place on us become dizzying.  Yes we can wail and whack and try to keep up. Efforts that are both exhausting and more often than not futile.

Or we can pause, stand still, catch our breath, compose ourselves and reassess our situation. Asking questions of ourselves such as:  What is most important right now?  What can I control?  What do I need to let go off? Where can I get help? What should I do to take care of myself?

I don’t hit my own pause button nearly enough. But when I do, when I take the time to simply stand still, it is always immensely helpful, grounding and revitalizing.

I just need to remind myself to do it more often. Perhaps you do as well.

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