If you listen when you are waiting for a Metro train in DC occasionally over the intercom will come a pleasant voice saying, “Please stand back from the edge of the platform.” There needs to be a slight gap between the platform and the train, and a wider gap between the train and the people waiting to board. I read that in London they announce, “Mind the Gap, please mind the gap.” Gaps are important in lots of things. In baseball you try to hit in “the gap” between two fielders. In sports car racing you try to “shoot the gap” between two cars ahead. In construction, one plans carefully the spaces between two beams of steal or wood, knowing that the gap is needed when the beam expands and contracts due to variances in temperature. If the gap is too small the beams will close and exert pressure on each other potentially causing the beams to crack. If the gap is too large the construction may fail as well. In insurance we talk in terms of “gaps in coverage,” meaning one’s insurance doesn’t cover some event. You can even insurance called “gap insurance.” The word gap has lots of meanings in many contexts. I am confident you have a few in mind as you read this.
Wouldn’t it be helpful to hear a voice occasionally that warns us “to mind the gap” when we go about our daily lives. In this regard, I am referring to the gap between our good intentions and our behavior. Especially when it comes those aspects of our lives that touch others. It is this gap that causes me to trip every time.
Like in construction, I also think we need to always design a little gap in our relationships as well. For the subway car there must be a gap between it and the platform or the tunnel walls for it to move. In our lives we need to design a little space as well. Space close enough to allow us to step easily in an out of people’s lives, but give enough space to allow each other to freely move around.