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.