Minding the gap.
Why is it that I believe that all gaps are meant to be filled?
Where did I get this idea?
When did it become my default?
I do not know. I can’t say. I just know that I have a compulsion to fill all gaps. Gaps in conversation, gaps on the wall or corners of my home, gaps in my soul, gaps in your soul, gaps.
What if all this time I was wrong?
What if the lesson of gaps is that we are just to stand at the edge of them and wait.
What if the whole entire fucking lesson of gaps is to NOT fill them.
When I think of all the energy and time that I have spent filling voids in my life...I have spent a lot of my life not thinking or living but filling.
Broke up with a guy - find a new guy - gap filled. Feel lonely - buy something - gap filled. Feel scared - start a fight with someone - gap filled. Feel agitated - move to a new house - overspend to the point of bankruptcy - gap filled. Feel less than - drink until your life is hanging in the balance - gap filled.
Now am I a compulsive gap filler because I am addict or is gap filling a precursor to being an addict. Does it even matter?
Here is what I know: Really the only thing that gap filling does is create the need to find and fill other gaps.
What is a gap anyway? My working definition: A place or space where the next thing is not readily apparent or already happening. It is that place where you don’t know the next thing, idea, guy, job, or house yet.
What if I could see my life like you can see the hard returns in a word document in edit mode? What if I could see looking forward and backward all the gaps and then watch myself fill them like a dog with a bone desperately running around the yard trying to bury it so no one will find it? What if this image engendered a feeling of compassion and empathy. What if I really saw myself for who I am and what I am and just said “ok”?
I think we live in a world that demands that we gap fill. There is a space well don’t just sit there - fill it up! But I am coming to the realization that maybe that is what is wrong with us. We have a question and then we immediately find an answer. Doesn’t really matter that it is the right answer or even a good answer. We just have to have an answer so we can move on and find the next...
Here is what I think gaps are trying to teach us:
The void they create can be filled but in filling it you will create a new gap that needs to be filled. Much like a bucket with a hole in it - you are capable of filling it but once you start you are forever going to be filling it because you will never, ever be done. This lesson is easy to know but very hard to see. We become so completely obsessed in the filling that we lose perspective on ourselves and why we thought that filling up a bucket with a hole was a good idea in the first place.
This brings me to the second lesson: This requires a little more work, well a lot more work. For me, I have to be willing to notice the urge to fill - notice what underlies the “need” then do nothing. I have to stop myself before I start filling the gap - I can examine that. Sit with that. Take it to the cushion or if you have no cushion - take it on a walk or a hike or give it space for a week. Allow it just to be there. I try to look at why I want to fill that gap - what are the parameters, the qualities, how does it feel, where does it reside in my body. What story am I telling myself about this particular gap? After I do this for awhile I realize that it is always the same story. Always the same. Never different. It goes like this:
Broke up with boyfriend = GAP Have all kinds of time to myself now. I think for an instant all the different ways that I could use this unoccupied time or gap. I could read, write, hike, paint the guest bedroom, plant a garden, go on vacation, the list is absolutely endless. All of those gap filling ideas seem great and I want to do them I really, really do. But then the storyline begins -
"yes you could do all those things but wouldn’t it be better if you had a partner. A partner is what you really, really want so all of those things you want to do will be way more meaningful."
And my online profile is back up and active inside of a week. At first I just look, I did just get out of a relationship - I tell myself that I am just looking and seeing what is out there. Then I see him...I know that he is likely what I am missing. And I am off - the desperate gap filling has commenced and I am its bitch.
Here is the revolutionary idea - what if it went like this instead:
Broke up with boyfriend = GAP I just allow that void to be there. I think a lot of things but I take no action at all. I just let them be. I just wait. I notice all the different stories my head tells me but I stand outside the sphere of action and just watch and wait. I see the storyline develop - I just allow it to continue to unfold. I do nothing.
I have very little experience with what happens next as I have spend the majority of my life very successfully NOT doing nothing. What I do know is that if I can just pause then I am not running around grasping at whatever and sooner or later the compulsion to fill the gap lessens because it is not reinforced.
What happens next - I am free. I can read or write or paint or pla
nt that garden and I am free because the storyline continues to be written but I do not believe it anymore. I do not believe that the next guy or new shoes or haircut or vacation or job or whatthefuckever is going to do anything but create the need and desire for more.
So I am starting this day with the radical idea that gaps are meant to be left alone. They are just there and I can let them be and in this letting be I am released from the cycle of suffering, craving a
nd having my whole life an endless cycle of creating and filling gaps. Oh and I also have a lot less crap in my head, closet and life which makes room for so much more.