There is often some wisdom to be found in the simple things in life. So it is too with “Mind the Gap”.
There are two fairly simple ways in which I see this being applicable to our lives. First, there are many times in our days when we have partial information to work with. For instance, we might be expecting someone to come home at a certain time and they do not arrive as expected. Or, we might send an email hoping for a certain response and no email arrives in the time we had expected. In the absence of information, our mind fills in the gaps. I wish that we had some mini “Mind the Gap” signs that could be implanted for such occasions. It would save us a lot of angst! The “Mind the Gap” signs posted in London are not there to tell commuters to not step off or on to a subway car. Rather they are there as a reminder to simply be cautious. To not make forward motion without being mindful of what we are doing. The Gap is simply the unknown space between two known things.
So it is with our minds. In the above example of sending the email, the known thing is that we have sent an email. We also know what the content is. Until we receive a reply email, we do not know the second thing. And so, there we stand at the edge of the platform, looking at the gap in front of us that seems to get bigger and bigger. The problem is that we have a tendency to fill this information gap with any possible number of outcomes. We tend to turn to our biases of how we see the world to help us with this. Often the possibilities we choose to focus on really just amount to ‘awfulizing’. For instance, we may think that the person who received the email has been offended. We may surmise that they are waiting to respond because they do not know how to let us down easily. Or perhaps they are now having a good laugh at our expense. On and on we go, not minding the gap, but simply filling it with our thoughts. The little “Mind the Gap” signs that I wish we could put into our minds would remind us that we are simply in that space between two things, one that we know and one that is yet to be revealed to us. These little signs would remind us that the gap is simply that: a gap. It is a space in time.
A second way that mini “Mind the Gap” signs could benefit us is when we are the ones responding to something or to someone. Stephen Covey speaks about our ability as humans to be response-able. That is, we have the ability to choose our response in any given situation. There is always a gap in between the time that a comment is made to us and our response. If a mini “Mind the Gap” sign popped up right before we responded, it would serve to remind us to use caution when responding. To take a few seconds and make sure that our response is reflective of what our intention is. Just as on the subway in London, the sign would not tell us to not step forward. It would simply remind us that there is a space, or a time, that we can use to decide where to plant our foot.
Your thought for this week is to “Mind the Gap”. Notice all of the little opportunities there are for you to make a decision about where you step. You will be amazed at what a difference these little signs can make.