Essay: Why Mind the Gap?

Who said, “We’ll leave the light on for you?” Most adult Americans probably know who (Tom Bodett) and why (Motel 6 ad). It’s a famous advertising end tag.

I don’t advertise, sell, or profit from either of my blog sites. But I do use the static intro taglines feature of WordPress themes for both blogs. You can’t see the intro tagline on Our Literary Journey because this page is a clean and sanitized theme. While the menu icon brings up more info, it does not display the tag line (Driveling twaddle by an old flapdoodle). Maybe I should create something less self-effacing.

However, the intro tagline is front and center on the Dispassionate Doubt theme. I do not use an end tag there; usually it’s just a relevant meme or quotation.

On September 4, 2016, a few months after I started Our Literary Journey, I began using the Look both ways end tagline. I change it slightly each time to relate to the post. Seven weeks later, on October 21st, I added a second end tag, Mind the Gap (or gaps), also changeable.

Both end tags are philosophically metaphorical phrases for living life—staying alive and healthy. They suggest considering all sides (pro and con), hearing people out, looking for answers (or for questions), discerning danger, being careful and taking risk, learning and remembering lessons, and trying new and different things. Although, consistency and longevity are credible virtues.

Over the years, I’ve become more aware of the word gap (retail clothing notwithstanding) and how we use it. For a three-letter, one-syllable word, it can mean so many different things. To the degree that gap is synonymous with crack, I find much meaning in Cohen’s song verse.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
—Leonard Cohen, lyrics from his song, Anthem

Gap has several definitions. It could be a break in a barrier (such as a wall, hedge, or line of military defense), an assailable position, a mountain pass or ravine, a separation in space or an incomplete or deficient area. A gap can be a break in continuity, a hiatus, lack of balance, or a disparity such as the gap between imports and exports. It could mean a wide difference in character or attitude, such as the generation gap, or a problem caused by some disparity such as a communication or credibility gap.

Mind the gap comes from the warning on the British Underground/subway. So, when I say mind the gap or gaps, it is a cautionary plea to protect oneself. It is also a suggestion to be careful and pay attention to your environment, particularly what you might not see. Yet, it is more than that. There are gaps in our knowledge, gaps in scientific explanations, gaps or figurative holes in our lives, or maybe gaps growing in our relationships. There is even a god of the gaps.

In my opinion, the biggest gap is between human imagination and reality.

This TEDx talk is about minding the gap. It’s what sparked me to write this post.

And yes, look both ways, into your imagination and toward reality.
And mind the gaps, those eternal infernal spaces
where the light gets in and shines upon mystery.

Hear the Music

music2

My music–I like 1970s soft rock and disco, although they’re not exclusive to my play lists. During the 70s, songs didn’t have the same meaning they do now. These days, my current emotions change how I hear that same music. Today, my music taste is deeper and broader.

music1I can listen to a song and apply it to any time in my life–past, present, or future. Beautiful songs stir me emotionally. I have thoughts of love and family–those memories we carry with us. As I listen to lyrics, I contrive personal interpretation and meaning.

I’ve selected four songs: one from the late 1960s, two from the 1970’s, and one from the mid 1980s. While song writers couldn’t foresee my thoughts and feelings years later, it often worked out that way.

A Whiter Shade of Pale (by Procol Harum, 1967)

I don’t know the writer’s intent or inspiration. Some have said it has to do with a sexual encounter. It also parallels with the Titanic tragedy.

It’s a wonderful song. Most Brits and I have enjoyed it for years. This was the most-played song in England for the past 75 years. It’s haunting and mysterious. I see it as sad, but in an oddly good way. In the manner that sadness is not always a bad part of life.

I selected the video with Sarah Brightman (circa, 2000) because the older video with Procol Harum, a product of its time, is not my favorite. This one has better imaging and Sarah’s singing of A Whiter Shade of Pale is great. The original, by the original group, is the classic favorite.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ToU5OshV4g

Hotel California (by The Eagles, 1977)

The intent and inspiration for this Eagles classic is well-documented. But, it depends on when they were asked. There’s a lot written and said about this one. What Don Henley said in a 2002, 60 Minutes interview was, “It’s basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American dream and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about.”

I agree that this is about life. I blow off the tie with LA. As my life moves forward I feel emotions and do things to experience life. I think my past, given what life had to work with, combined with my consciousness to make me – me. My two favorite lines in this song, which is also haunting and mysterious are:

“We are all just prisoners here, of our own device” …………….and

“We are programmed to receive. You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!”

Click on the link here to listen.

The Sad Café (by The Eagles, 1979)

Even more straightforward, this song is about their (musicians and writers) experience at The Troubadour, a club in LA where musicians met, back in the day. It’s a look back.

I love this song. I’ll say haunting again. This one draws me back to my younger days (my 20s and 30s) when I had more tomorrows than yesterdays. It’s not only about the dreams. It is about the feelings. I can still have those feelings when I listen to songs like this. The video is especially good because of all the pictures of the artists and musicians. I enjoy the photos casting the dark rainy nights.

https://vimeo.com/45249782

Dance Me to the End of Love (Leonard Cohen, 1984)

When I first heard this song, it came to me as a beautiful love song that could ride through eternity. Is there an end to love? Later, I learned that Cohen’s inspiration for the song was the Holocaust. He’s spoken of the string groups that played as others were gassed and burned. That changed the song for me. But did not the victims have love? Weren’t their loves in this life being cut short?

While I’ll never forget that Leonard Cohen wrote this song because of one of the most profoundly sad times in history, I cannot let go of the love and how it is a forever thing. Love and its beauty (with Leonard’s haunting voice) is what this song is about.

The video doesn’t betray Cohen’s inspiration, but it clearly implies long time love. Except for flashbacks, the people in the video share more yesterdays than they will tomorrows.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGorjBVag0I

music3Music mines deep into the treasures of our minds, hearts, memories, hopes, and dreams. It changes as we change, while it stays the same. May we enjoy music and the love songs that evoke our emotions. Let’s all find ecstasy in the music that makes us who we are; be we happy or sad, in or out of love, young or old. Let’s all dance to the end of love. And may that end be an eternity away.