Until I launched into my university career in recent years the only gap I minded was the one on the London Tube. Although my last tube travel was in 1993 I can still hear with clarity the voice booming from the loud speaker “Mind the Gap.” My mind boggled as I wondered how many people had disappeared between the platform and the train which immediately would have me thinking back to the one I had personally seen. I was doing a dance class at East Sydney tech in the school holidays. The teacher was Robert Helpman and I was thrilled to be in a class with such a distinguished dancer. My family were newcomers to the city and as such I was at thirteen unskilled in the art of train travel. I had taken my seat facing the door and watched in horror as a woman tried to jump on the train as it was pulling out from the station. She disappeared between the platform and the train. The emergency bell was pulled and the train was stopped quickly. I felt as though the world had frozen with the only picture I was seeing the look of surprised terror on the woman’s face as her arm flailed in an attempt to save herself. In that gap of my memory I can feel my nausea still and the chill dripping from my brow. I watched the retrieval in the hope of good news but all I can see is her bloodied body. But did I fill the gap? I’ll never know. I did not however return to dance classes.
Now, as a researcher, the gap is exactly where I want to be, most of the time. Early in my research journey I didn’t truly understand this and when I went to a conference in New Zealand whose theme was “Mind the Gap” . I struggled to write a paper. Was the gap a gap in knowledge and certainly sequel memoir which was the subject of my research is not an area that has been examined by many. Was the gap something else. I found on attending I was lost in the gap that opened like a gaping hole. Many of the papers went above my head. Everyone sounded so intelligent, apart from me. The paper I gave titled Reading Between the Lines: Couser’s High Definition Memoir, to my ears sounded simplistic and puerile in comparison to others that I listened to. I did notice, however, that those attending my paper paid attention. Computers weren’t being used, people were not using their phones and sending messages — instead they appeared to be listening.
Now nearing the end of my research journey, the gap is no longer a place I fall into feeling helpless and inadequate but rather it has become the place I want to be. It is there that knowledge can be gleaned. It is the starting point and the place where interpretation of the experience and reflection takes place. It is also a place for self reflexivity and where analysis of traditional methods occurs. It is the place between myself and my creative work. The place where problems arise, where thoughts are provoked, challenged and illuminated. It is within this gap that the research question will be found and answered.
In response to Weekly Discover Challenge