Six months ago I listened to a speaker who, during a visit to London, noticed signs in the subway warning people to "mind the gap"–the potentially dangerous space between the platform and the train. She asked us to consider and "mind" the gaps in our own lives: the gap between who we want to become and who we are; the gap between the way we know we should behave and the way we actually live our lives; this sort of thing.
I ran across a printed version of her talk last month and it got me to thinking about the gaps in my own life.
(Like the difference between what I know as a mother about the significance of having sit-down family dinners together and yet as an exhausted woman, it's a lot easier to direct the teenaged children to the pot of food on the stove and eat my own on the couch.)
So, conscience fully twinged, I decided to whip things into shape around here. For the last two weeks I have been mother extraordinaire, babysitter supreme, teacher prepared, cook and plumber on call.
I have smiled when I wanted to cry, prayed when I wanted to strangle, listened when I wanted to think–and my children have responded almost immediately. Huge differences in their attitudes and in how they treat one another.
Here's the thing, though. As I have bridged those gaps, there are others opening up in their place, no matter how I position myself. Not entirely surprising–our days being stubbornly resistant to stretching out past the 24 hours they are contained in–but puzzling nonetheless.
Mostly because the two most noticeable gaps are ones I profess to hold quite dear: my health, and my writing.
Exercising–I can see why I neglect that. Pure laziness or boredom, right?
But writing? How did that get shaken way down to the bottom of the pile? This thing that I have defined myself by since I was six years old and hammering out strange, convoluted tales on my father's typewriter? How does something so fundamentally me get lost in the shuffle?
I know I cannot exist outside of the written word; you don't want to know me when I am not writing–I don't want to know myself.
So last night I set my alarm for 3 a.m. I was determined to get up and get a good hour or two in before the day really began. I was going to write–anything, something. I would write. No matter what. Yawning and bleary eyes aside, I would write. And then I would go to bed early.
I had this deluded idea that if I did it just once, I'd start a new cycle of early to bed, early to rise and I'd have bridged the gap, once and for all. With sheer willpower.
But I didn't get up. I kept pushing the alarm button until forty-five minutes later than I ever start my day and still didn't want to get up when there was no longer any choice in the matter.
I am weak. Well rested, but weak.
Why, if writing is really that important to me, do I put it last?