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by Sharon Lachow-Blumberg

November 8,2009

The other day, I turned on the television and the word “Intermission” was on the television screen. There was nothing else, just the word “Intermission,” with a soundtrack playing in the background. So I waited for what seemed like an eternity (it was only a minute or so) and then the movie was back on the screen: Rodger and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.

Do you remember when movies where long enough that they required an intermission? The last intermission in a mainstream movie occurred during Ghandi in 1982. Intermissions still occur during other entertainment venues i.e., theatre, opera, dance, sporting events and concerts.

And do you remember when a single admission ticket got you entry into a double feature – two movies for the price on one? Now that was a real bargain. Those days are gone. In 2003, an independent movie was released entitled Intermission with the tagline, “Life is what happens in between”. There are things that you want and there are things that you need and in between there’s intermission. I had not heard about this movie before until I searched the word “intermission” online. What a coincidence!

That brief experience watching the word “Intermission” on the screen got me thinking about the use of the word in our society today. What is the definition of the word? According to Merriam Webster, intermission is an interval between parts of an entertainment. According to Wikipedia, an intermission was originally intended for actors to have breaks within their performance. Intermissions today have become an opportunity for the audience to socialize, purchase and consume refreshments, and/or buy items related to the performance. As a result, intermissions can have an important financial function for some venues.

Intermissions usually last between 15 to 30 minutes, and there are different methods to signal to the audience to return to their seats. The traditional method at an opera or symphonic concert is to flash the house lights several times or to have a person with a handheld glockenspiel walk about the crowd, playing a four note chime. In more modern theatres, a brief chime through the PA system is used. An intermission is also often billed as an Entr'acte, derived from the French meaning "between the acts."

Now what if we used the word “intermission” in a different context? Our economy has been experiencing a crisis or recession over the past many months and has affected many of us in the community directly or indirectly. Our neighbors, friends and/or family have lost value in their savings, household equity and investments. What if we use the word intermission instead of crisis, meltdown, recession or depression? Yes, the economic situation is severe for many of us. However, by using the word intermission, doesn’t it feel a little less stressful? It doesn’t take away from the severity or magnitude of the situation; it simply eases the burden a bit. Many people in our communities have lost their jobs or consulting assignments as a result of the economic intermission. Granted, the loss of a job is a very stressful experience, but perhaps we can use the word intermission to describe our time in between. Perhaps we should say that we are experiencing a career intermission. It has a much nicer ring to it, don’t you think? By using a different word it allows us to put the situation in a different context and may make us feel a little better. So I propose from here forward, the world, our community, our neighborhood, our colleagues and our friends and family use the following phrase – “I am simply in intermission.” Now don’t you feel better?

I suggest starting right now, as of this moment taking an intermission. It can last one minute, or five minutes, or one hour, or one whole day. Simply take the time to change your perspective, make a new friend, take a break, give a stranger a smile and stretch your legs. As a result, you may renew your energy and look at your situation in a different way. Take a moment, smile, laugh, break out into an impromptu song and turn your life into a musical. Go ahead and take an intermission.

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