“All human beings are united by birth, life, death, and every emotion in between” -Yung Pueblo.
One of the lessons I always try to teach my 11-year-old daughter is to do something called “mind the gap.” That is, to find solace in where you are as you get to where you want to be. I first heard about it from an audio book I listened to called, Untamed, and it struck a chord. Sometimes she is content with where she is and sometimes, she wishes for more, whatever the more may be. Right now, it is dance team. I understand this feeling as I know it is a feeling that most people have. You will get there, I say, but first you must “mind the gap.” You must be ok with where you are, knowing you eventually will get to where you are going. But where you are going takes effort and patience, and a lot of practice. It takes doing things you might not normally do. That ‘gap,’ is the present and that gap, right now can also be called “the in-between.”
Let’s take this concept and expand it into our lives.
Yesterday I sat with an old friend. We didn’t have too much time, but we always make the most of it, figuring out the world and people and how we fit in and relate to all of it. We like to hash it out in cozy clothes with our feet up as our kids run around us in circles. We came to the conclusion that this in-between stage is hard, and it has changed people. It has changed mindsets and head space. It is almost like we all have to re-learn ourselves and who we are now. She said, “I am convinced there are so very many of us who feel lost and lonely navigating all the things that separated us this past year.” Amen Amy.
I wanted to dig deeper, as always, because well, that hasn’t changed about me. So, I talked to Dr. Lukin of the Lukin Center for Psychotherapy. We usually talk for 5 minutes but it is 5 minutes of complete and thorough enlightenment. I always learn something new or look at something from a different angle. I told him about this “in-between” concept I was hashing out and he said, “in other words, it is about managing anxiety.” Well, yes. Ahem…
He talked about how we are in a space where we have to make decisions that align with our values and then commit to them. Whatever decision we make, we have to lean into the anxiety we might feel with it. We have to be ok with the fact that there may not be a resolution; nothing is black and white. Dr. Lukin’s advice is to also understand the difference between productive worry and unproductive worry. Unproductive worry starts a chain reaction. But productive worry can be changed in the instant. We can understand that nothing is going to be one way or another. It is almost like dipping our toe in the freezing cold ocean; at first it is freezing and hard to take, but as we sit with it, our bodies adjust. And so do we. The pressures and anxieties we pin on our decisions, lose steam and we become ok with where we are. It gets us closer to where we are going. We are essentially, minding the gap, or knowing that this is what we need to move forward in our uncertain world.
And it is uncertain.
One thing I will continue to be grateful for, are the people who can sit in the gray with me and hash it out. Sometimes I look around and think to myself, “you get me.” Nothing feels better than being understood and understanding their point of view, even if it is different than mine. Because we are all connected in some way, even if our decisions are different. Sometimes your values will not align with someone else’s values and that is ok. We can make a decision and commit and never allow anyone else to question your decisions for you.
After all, we are all just doing the best we can.
Sometimes, I look around and think to myself, we have come a long way. And then sometimes, I look around, and think to myself, we have so far to go. My only conclusion is this, we are living in the in-between, or the space between where we are and where we are going. But it will be ok. After all, we are living in a strange new reality, and it will take time to get to where we think we need to be. We will see decisions that don’t align with ours, but we will continue to move forward with our own and commit to them. We will get there, even if we come skidding in with our legs over our heads. But we will. In the meantime, take with you this little nugget of hope and continue to move forward. Hold your values tight. “Mind the gap.”