The Space Between
That unique gap between where we once were and where we will be.
Deep down, we all know what we want.
Once the fog, the pride, the distractions, the self-sabotaging thoughts subside, we know. We feel it. With enough space and quiet, we really can feel what our heart is pulling us towards.
We may even fantasize about it, day in and day out. We may spend countless hours in a world created only in the intimidate crevices of our mind, ceaselessly mapping out the intricate details of just how delicious this life will be.
Yet the fantasizing can have a far off feeling to it. Like a pipe dream that we use to self soothe, but our subconscious fears we may never attain it.
On the other hand, we’re far too aware of what isn’t working. The pains, the frustrations, the thorns that easily consume even more space in our waking, conscious mind.
We have where we currently are, and we have where we’re heading. To move from one state into the other requires a break.
A pause. A gap.
That space between where you currently are and where you know you want to be.
Recently, I have reached that strange, limbo-esque space. After staying with a job that I felt I had plateaued with long ago, I longed for the day where my reality was firmly situated on the other side of it.
But the funny thing is, I’ve continued to notice how the moment that space comes, once we enter into the gap between where we are and where we want to be, it can feel… jarring.
It’s unfamiliar. It quite literally is the unknown.
From a biological level, we’re hard-wired to fear the unknown. It’s daunting, it can feel threatening, and suddenly everything in us screams to take us back to the comfy, familiar state we were in before.
The first splash of ice cold water. The sound of the alarm when the sun hasn’t even come up.
More often than not, it’s usually these small, incremental — yet uncomfortable and sticky — moments that can throw off our entire momentum.
All of a sudden, the questioning thoughts start to leak through the crevices… was it really that bad?
From an objective standpoint, there was a base-level of financial security tied to the job.
Yes the relationship had run its course, but consistently waking up with another warm, living human feels nice. It’s assuring.
It’s definitely time to find an upgraded apartment situation, but… the energy and effort required to move? Oh god, that sounds horrendous.
Is the change really worth it?
And this seems to be precisely where we get tripped up.
Doubt is a fickle monster. He seeps in through the crevices of the mind when you least expect it. Shimmers of glimmering hope and shining potential all too quickly become clouded by questioning and self-negotiating.
Do I really want what exists on the other side? What if I don’t like it? What if it’s hard? What if it’s uncomfortable?
Here’s the thing(and the thing I am telling myself, as I share with you) —
It’s going to be uncomfortable.
Growing pains will always hurt at first. The shedding of the cocoon, the release of self-sabotaging habits will be laced with unnatural feelings.
But the more honest we are with ourselves about the nature of this period the get-go, the easier it will be for us to navigate this uncharted waters.
Getting really clear about all the potential hang-ups, detours, unexpected distractions will better prepare us for the road again.
For it is the path through the fire that will ultimately lead us towards our freedom.
As Joseph Campbell elucidates in The Hero’s Journey —
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasures you seek.
When I zoom out and reflect on the most notable achievements of my life, the times I experienced the deepest fulfillment, the highs of reaching a huge accomplishment — essentially everything worthwhile I’ve gained it my life came at the price of some level of sacrifice, struggle, work, and a change to my core identity.
Anything we want will always come at price.
Like Mark Mason details in The Subtle Art of Not Giving Enough, we have to determine which shit sandwich were willing to eat to get to what we want.
Which begs the question to ourselves, that only we can answer for ourselves — what price am I willing to pay?
Finding your aligned partner requires fully cutting ties with your exes, especially if there’s a level of emotional-attachment that keeps you from fully opening yourself up to someone new (believe me, I know this far too well).
Leaving a soul-draining job will shift your schedule, your financial stability, and induce uncertainty and doubt.
Running a marathon requires months of intense training, often at the expense of other leisure and social activities.
But that space between — the uncomfortable, unknown, often scary space — doesn’t last forever.
I am continually reminding myself that this is the necessary pathway towards the reality I want. Deep down, beyond the doubts and uncertainties and questioning, I know the payoffs will come soon.
Day by day, through the small, incremental, uncomfortable moments, we adapt. We shift. We begin to change.
New habits become non-negotiable. The excitement of the new possibilities shines over the fear. Suddenly, the hard parts start to feel good.
This is where we change.
In the words of Stoic philosopher,
“It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.”
This is where we begin to move through the cave and reach the treasures we crave. As I venture on this path forward, nervous yet filled with courage, I hope to see you there.