Mind the gap
So…I had this realization while hiking a couple months ago. A buddy and I went to a state park that features massive rock walls enclosed around a peaceful lake. The main hiking trails go around the perimeter of the lake and feature sizable treks up to the top of the rocks. At the top of the rocks you get some majestic views.
Now the picture above was from July, though my realization came when I went back to hike around the lake again in November. The contrast between how the place looked each time was mind blowing for me. That’s something I appreciate about the stark contrast between seasons here. In the summer it’s lush and green, with a bright sun sparkling on the water. On the other hand, the view in late fall featured more grey, long shadows, and barren trees. Though I prefer the summer view, that’s not to say one is necessarily better than the other. They’re both perfect, just different.
Near the end of the hike my buddy and I got to a point where there was this one rock outcropping that stood on its own just about a yard away from the main cliff face. Now this rock was very large, about 10 by 10 ft of surface on top. To get to it you had to cross a gap of about 3-4ft. The kicker was that the gap went down about 30ft so if you went down that, you probably weren’t getting out anytime soon. I hopped over onto the rock outcropping and it wasn’t anything crazy, it was just cool to get out on this stand alone rock because it jutted out beyond the trees and it offered some spectacular views (remember, I’m a sucker for a beautiful view). I simply leaped across the gap and got to the other side. I didn’t give it much thought for some time, but then as I sat there on the outcropping I realized it was a great metaphor (I hope I’m using the word metaphor correctly :D) for self-development.
We often are afraid of the gap, no matter how large it is, because it represents the unknown separation between our old and new self. If I tried to get to the rock outcropping by keeping one foot on hard land and reaching over with my other foot, it may work, but it’s way harder. Yes, I’d have one foot on solid ground the entire time, but that small comfort is paid for in extra time and the failure to take off from the side you originally started on. You can’t drive off the back foot when your stride is spread out to the extreme. However, if you just leap over the gap, you get to the other side quickly, efficiently, and all it takes is facing your fear of the gap. When we want to learn a new skill or create a new healthy habit, we usually have to shed a bit of our ego that’s identified with our old ways. This is the piece of us that gets left behind when we jump the gap.
It hard to take something away that you’re identified with, it’s ingrained in our existence, and this is exactly why making a positive change in your life is usually a challenge. I’m dealing with that now in many areas of my life, whether it’s biting my nails, pitching with command, or holding a girl’s gaze with confidence. In the coming weeks I will look for opportunities to jump the gap in my own life in order to transcend the limitations of my current ego-derived self. And when I transcend those limitations, I get a much better view 😉