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The Power of the Pause

As told to AA PATAWARAN

Since mid-March, Rajo Laurel has been quarantined with his partner, interior designer Nix Alañon, in his family weekend home in the wilderness of Nasugbu, where there are no neighbors, except for a few snakes and a monkey that have paid them the occasional call. Unaware that this quarantine would last longer than a week, the fashion designer brought with him no more than five shirts and five pairs of shorts, and none of the usual things he would have around to occupy his time, not his work materials, not even his books.

Here, in his own words, Rajo shares with us how this great pause has opened his eyes to the many lessons life could have taught us if we weren’t going way “too fast and way too careless.”

“You know there’s going to be a lot of good coming out of this pandemic. A pandemic is one of the most challenging times for the human race that historically creates the greatest shift toward newness and this pandemic is not any different. We just need to realize that we were going way too fast, way too careless, and way too wasteful. Therefore, the universe sort of gave us a timeout, put us all in our little corners, where we can evaluate what we need to do next. That for me is the largest outcome of this situation.

The power of the pause is a tool I use personally to recharge. Pre-pandemic, I would take short breaks here in our resthouse and also travel a lot. I just needed to get out of the office and my normal routine to get inspired again. But I haven’t had this much time on my hands to rethink every single part of my work and my life, so I’m using all this time to really meditate about everything I need to do not only to become a better person but also a better designer, a better businessman, a better human being. That to me is the power of the pause.

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My day in quarantine begins quite early. I’m usually up by 5 a.m. or 5:30. Nix and I find different ways to take in some vitamin D. Sometimes, we take hikes or we bike around the mountains. We don’t really have neighbors so we’re able to do that. We get to the beach near us so we also get to enjoy the water. We’re very, very close to nature and we’re discovering new things because of that. A couple of days ago we had snakes. Today there was a monkey in the house! It’s interesting and it’s fun and at the same there’s a lot of newness.

We cook lunch or prepare our food. We just really try to be as creative as we can using the time given to us to get inspired. Nix started with his everyday Ikebana and he’s cooking a lot. I’m doing a lot of sketching.

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Quarantine is so different. My life here is so different. First of all, I sleep around 8:30 p.m and I’m up by the crack of dawn. I’m tending my garden. I wish I could read more but I wasn’t able to bring a lot of books. I’m discovering so much about my environment, my roots, my culture, my heritage. I’ve got plenty of realizations that really are quite good for the soul.

We really are enjoying, thriving, and living the best way we can given the situation. Nix and I are together and I’m very grateful for that. But I miss my family and I miss my friends. We call each other as often as we can. We have our Zoom meetings and also phone calls and FaceTime. I get to see my family but it’s not the same as seeing them live.

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When this is over, I look forward to hugging my mom, my dad, and my brothers and sisters. I want to see my friends. I look forward to going back to the city and enjoying the restaurants I used to go to, also the little luxuries like getting a haircut or a massage or even a mani-pedi. Those small things I took for granted are also the things I miss.

Of course, I miss making clothes. That’s one of the biggest challenges because I didn’t bring the materials I need to make anything. Instead, I use the time to evaluate the process and also to teach myself and my clients how to really value what we do and not to just wear it once and throw it away. Those are some of the biggest changes we’re going to have to do. Life is really going to change. We’re trying to be as fast as we can [to adapt] but again, I think, the lesson here is to slow down.

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Covid-19 will really change the fashion industry 180 degrees. It’s going to redefine how we create clothes, how we wear clothes. Were going to need to rethink our culture of excess, our culture of greed, our culture of overproduction. We’re forced to think outside of the box. We’re going to have to create more thoughtful, sensible, and sustainable products that are not just going to benefit our clients but really the world in general. We don’t go back into that race, that imaginary rat race that we used to think of as fashion.”


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/05/02/the-power-of-the-pause/)

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