Mind the Gap: Weekly Discover Challenge

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

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. Commenced a masters by research in 2014.
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6 Responses to Mind the Gap: Weekly Discover Challenge

  1. I agree with your suggestion that the gap is what spurs creativity. What we don’t know makes us find out or build or innovate. I’ve often said that being vulnerable is what makes us creative and I think it’s a similar space. Where we are hurting or tender makes the same sort of yearning mind. You did a great job of discussing how we must mind the gap.

    I can’t get my head around the Tube being so dangerous. How can they not accommodate people with strollers, those who are slow because of age or infirmities?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to admit I could never see the gap that caused their concern until I watched the video I posted and was informed that it is due to the curved platform. Where you get on and off prams and the aged would manage.
      A fair way into my thesis it hit me that I was trying to know what we don’t know in that gap. I don’t know that I know but once you start thinking about those things you do reflexively you do start to learn a little and with that learning you can make some change.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Annecdotist says:

    I love your take on this topic, Irene, and yes, we’re still instructed to mind the gap on the tube. Horrific, however to experience that tragedy on the train so young – what shame put you off your dance class.
    I like how you now celebrate your gap – for me, the gap between what we expect and what we get, between different people’s interpretations and misinterpretations, is where a lot of my fiction happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anne. I don’t know that it so much put me off dancing as train travel, although my way of coping is to repress the memories (unhealthy I know) until my head can deal with it. When I can write about it I know that it has been dealt with. The difference – that is a good way of describing a gap – we all have those in our lives and a great place to start your fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

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