Make Time for the Pause or You’ll Miss Its Intended Meaning

Photo found on Google Images

Photo found on Google Images

The road once travelled,

feet planted firm on solid

ground, interrupted


by roots thirsty for

the strength that you possess. They

demand your attention.


You decide: let them

overtake you, your lower

limbs petrifying


into suspended

thought and motion or pause

briefly, study its


intrusion, finding

its point of origin,

harvesting instead


its fruit so you can

move on, girded with wisdom

and understanding.

—by Alexandra Caselle

Trees are Mother Nature’s grapevine.  Not only do they anchor the ecosystem, but trees also communicate history through the rings of their trunks. Once a person enters a tree’s space, he or she feels nature’s vibe.

Place an ear against its bark. Listen to how it amplifies the scurrying of the squirrels and the knocking of the woodpecker’s beak. Tarry a little longer in its presence, and become connected to a network that extends farther than any Wi-Fi system.

A tree’s placement affects the overall landscape.  It can enhance the area, change its composition, or attract other wildlife. These positive changes unearth a hidden attribute of the landscape, something that broadens Mother Nature’s or the developers’ original design.

Trees can also block paths. Their roots disrupt the leveled planes of sidewalks and driveways.  People can either ignore them or choose to remove them.

The placement of a comma can affect a sentence’s overall composition.  A comma can add layers and depth to a sentence and extend its meaning.  It is that blinking caution light, alerting readers to slow down before they miss something that will be of great impact.

Those pesky little pronunciation marks account for a lot of writing errors. Teachers break down its plethora of rules to one basic concept: a comma means pause.  That one word, pause, leads writers off on a tangent.  They begin writing how they talk.

During the writing process, writers may reread the emerging piece, listening in their minds for places between words where a break would go.  The problem with expecting a pause is the misperception that writing should mirror the normal flow of conversation.

The pauses of everyday dialogue do not always indicate a need for a comma when translated into the written word. The comma does direct the reader to pause, but there is a reason for it.   It emphasizes or elaborates a point in the sentence.

The pauses that occur in life definitely direct people’s attention to a deeper meaning in their lives, and if they juxtapose their lives against some of the comma rules, people may see how their life’s hiccups extend their conceptions of themselves.

When Sentences & Life Make You Take a Time Out

A common use of the comma is to separate nonessential clauses and phrases from the main sentence.  These groups of words function as extra information, but when removed, do not alter the original meaning of the sentence.  Those supplemental syntactical elements function as the scantily clad cousin who saunters in the middle of the wedding vows: they interrupt the flow and steal the show.

These interrupters may be appositives that further describe the subject:

Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a medical professional who examined the liver and ate it, too, is one of the most frightening villains in horror films.

Now compare the above sentence to the one below:

Dr. Hannibal Lecter is one of the most frightening villains in horror films.

The addition of the nonessential element adds character and makes the reader notice.

For me, losing the ability to walk on my own for an extended length of time forced me to appreciate things taken for granted.  That pause was an incubation time for me.  It emphasized past hurts that I needed to release and it instilled gratitude.  There is nothing more humbling, than having a rotating round of nurses remove all ounces of dignity while assisting you with simple things like bathing or using the restroom.

Nothing strikes a blow like having your parents, who are in their 70s and 80s, see you struggle with a walker decked out in green tennis balls during your physical therapy session.  My legs were like blocks of concrete.  I willed them to move, wishing I had Magneto’s mind control.  I was more like a flimsy rag doll being held up by three medical puppeteers in white.

That pause broke my pride, a necessary interruption.

That elongated period of physical therapy and loss of independence led me to examine a series of actions and thoughts that did not belong in my emotional, spiritual, or psychological being. Yes, they were sequential events, happening successively, like a list of life events. But their timeframe was definite, not infinite.  They had an end date that occurred in the distant past, but I refused to evict them from my life.

They were like a serial comma, further reflection on them, just added problem, after problem, after problem in my present, nonessential items in a series.   In writing, teachers instruct us to place a comma or break after each item in a series until you come to the conjunction and.

But there has to come a time when we stop placing breaks into the composed lines of our lives and let the comma or past event actually fulfill its role.  If we were to look up the meaning of serial in the dictionary, we would see that it means “pertaining to the transmission or pressing of each part of a whole in sequence.”  (

Commas and those life’s hiccups may force us to slow down but after we learn the meaning, then we must press forward.

They were designed to detain us only for a little awhile.

Review the most common rules here:


2 thoughts on “Make Time for the Pause or You’ll Miss Its Intended Meaning

  1. First that poem was amazing. I love your poetry. Second, I’m a horrid comma abuser. I write, as you pointed out, as I speak sometimes. Bah! I shall learn, and this post shall help. Thanks. 🙂

    • Thanks, Julie:) I think commas are one of those punctuation marks that everyone struggles with as writers. It doesn’t hurt to have a refresher every once in a while.

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