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Mind The Gap

In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

If you have ever ridden the “Tube” in London, the underground subway, you have heard it; the automated message that plays reminding riders to be careful when exiting the subway, because there is a space between the subway car and the platform. “Mind the Gap.” I’ve always found this curious, as the gap is rather small, but nevertheless, this call to pay attention plays at every stop. Mind The Gap!

Lately, that same reminder seems to be playing in my life. Be Mindful of The Gap. Wherever I turn, Creation has been exposing the gaps in my life. Unmistakably a call for me to consider them, and so I have been. The gap between who I am and who I could be; the gap between the gifts I have been given and how I am using them; the gap between my birth and death; the gap between what I have and what I want, to name a few. All gaps that are mine alone to fill.

Now, with these gaps, I take comfort in knowing I have time to work on them, to deal with them, to understand them, and to act on them. While it is true that I might get run over by the fish truck, each day I wake up, I pledge to try.

Then yesterday, Creation positioned yet another gap for me to consider, in an already emotionally charged conversation. The way the other person reacted to something I said, coupled with reaction in response to her reaction drove the entire encounter into a tailspin. The conversation escalated as emotions rose. Nothing got accomplished; it was awful, and I felt terrible.

In thinking about that conversation and its repercussions, I was reminded of the famous Viktor Frankl quote:

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.

Now I understood, and had been working on, the aforementioned gaps in my life. But in conversations and interactions with others? Was there truly a gap that I was responsible for? I always thought my responsibility to others was to be truthful and authentic, to show up and be present. Period.

It had never previously occurred to me that in showing up, I had any other choice but to be myself. Yet Creation was making clear that was not the case. In that moment, in that nano-second gap between what was happening and how I responded to another person, I had a choice. Here it was again. Be Mindful of the Gap. But what should I be mindful of?

Frankl posited, “In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Growth and freedom? How was I supposed to choose growth and freedom? What did that even mean? I pondered and I pondered.

Finally, totally stymied, I decided to ignore the question and turn my attention back to the gaps I was already dealing with. Rationalizing all along that some of my gaps, those feeling more like a mash-up of the Grand Canyon and a black hole, needed my immediate attention. The tiny gap could wait.

Note to self: You can rationalize, but you can’t hide.

Not until I heard myself ponder, out loud, the gap between who I was and who I could be, did I understand Frankl’s response. In that moment, in that deafening silence, I found the answer and my truth. My choice, the gap between stimulus and response, was in fact my choice between who I was and who I could be, and in choosing the better of myself, I would grow and be free.

The irony is that the tiniest gaps in my life are the hardest to fill. But there it was. Be Mindful of the Gap. In the nanosecond between stimulus and response, Creation is challenging me to respond with my best self.

And so it will be. I will be choosing to respond, not to react.

In those nanoseconds, knowing I have a choice, I’m going to try to choose my best self. But as a work in progress, until I get that gap bridged, when in doubt, I am going to choose to respond with grace (best defined as love in action) and lovingkindness.

Note to self: You can rationalize, but you can’t hide.

Okay, okay, Creation. I get it. Let me try that again.

In those nanoseconds, knowing I have a choice, I’m going to choose my best self. And as a work in progress, when in doubt, I am going to close my eyes, breathe, and take as long as it takes to hear my best self; only then, I will respond.

I will be Mindful of the Gap.


PS. Are there gaps in your life? Please share your comments.

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