When traveling by train we’re told to mind the gap. The gap between the safety of the platform and the safety of the train.
When traveling on your journey in life, there’s a gap to mind, too.
The gap between where you are now and where you want to be. That space between the two can be scary, exhilarating, life affirming, dangerous, and all of the above. After all, it’s the unknown.
That gap can be innocuous, though, if you’re aware it’s there and prepare to navigate through it.
In April my wife and I embarked on a journey from California to Illinois. We packed up our belongings, ourselves, and our animals and began a 2100-mile drive toward the unknown.
Except there were a lot of knowns. We knew where we would stop along the way. We knew where we would live once we arrived. What we didn’t know was what it would be like once we got here. Enter, the gap.
As a lifelong Angeleno I had no idea what it would be like to live anywhere else. Six months into my new life as a Chicagoan, I’m still minding that gap.
Winter is coming, they tell me. I’ve been told by strangers over and over again that I’ll be back in California after a year, that a Californian–an Angeleno, no less!–won’t be able to hack it in the biting cold of Chicago. I’ve seen the look in friends’ eyes, that I’m crazy for leaving behind the good weather and people of LA. Their words are encouraging and well wishing, but their eyes give away their fear on my behalf.
What feels big for you may feel small to another, and vice versa. Sometimes there’s a gap to mind in that, as well. This gap contains the negative feedback I’ll need to work through to feel solid once again in my decision.
Fall is actually here now and I need to consult the air outside to determine which clothes are appropriate for a run, going out for a meal, or taking Jackson for a walk.
The gap contains thought processes I rarely had to contend with in my former LA life.
When my wife travels for business I’m lonelier than before, because friends were always a short(ish) drive away and even if I didn’t make the drive back then, just knowing it was an option was comforting.
The gap contains navigating friendships in new ways so I don’t end up blaming Chicago, my wife, or myself for my loneliness (although the latter would be closest to the truth, but not for the reasons I would be telling myself).
There are many more gaps in this relocation that I’ll need to mind, but awareness that they’re there (or will be) is the first step to minding them. Only if I’m on the lookout for the gaps can I put myself in a position to mind them.
“To be yourself is all that you can do.”
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