The Space Between – Revisited
Photo credit: Sharon Cauthen
Prelude by Sharon Cauthen
In the year before the pandemic upended the world, my husband and I visited Alaska, a place of breathtaking sights and sounds where flora and fauna abound. It was a trip I dreamed of for most of my life. You see, my grandfather helped to build the first railroad in Alaska. The work was brutal, manual, and dangerous in below-freezing temperatures. The conditions are almost unimaginable today, but without the labor of Sam Callihan and his peers, reaching the northern land with any assurance of safety was a poor bet as best. I recall one story about a man who fell ill, and the nearest medical help was 30 miles away. In the winter. In Alaska. My grandfather volunteered to take the man out because he knew how to handle a team of sled dogs. He delivered his sick colleague to safety and walked the rest of the way back – in ONE DAY. For his trouble, he was granted by the Boss-man one day off before getting back to work.
As I read this early Multifamily Collective edition titled, “The Space Between”, I was reminded of my grandfather’s story, his legacy, and of how the railroad tracks are a metaphor for the space between. They are limiting, and critically important – and the space between is rife with choice. If the engineer fails to remain vigilant, many unforeseen things can derail the train causing certain death to those on board and anyone else in the immediate area. If he allows the tedium of the tracks to bore him into losing focus, catastrophe awaits.
I encourage you to stay awake, dear friends, in the space between, and make alert life-affirming choices while you’re there.
The Space Between by Mike Brewer
When I was a younger human, I found much in my small world that made me angry and there were times when I allowed that anger to dictate my words or actions. I’m not proud of those moments and truthfully, I’ve worked hard to reform my thoughts and deeds in my quest to become a servant leader worth my salt. Even so, every day offers its stumbling blocks, and it provides me the opportunity to hold myself accountable to the man and leader that I desire to become. Some days, I feel good about my choices, and others, not so much. Nevertheless, the quest continues.
Many years ago, Viktor Frankl, a very wise man whose life and writings I admire, penned a statement in his memoir Man’s Search For Meaning that resonates with me still today.
“Between stimulus and response, there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Viktor survived the Holocaust, internment in four concentration camps including Auschwitz, and the loss of his parents, brother, and pregnant wife while enduring monstrous personal abuse at the hands of the Nazis. If a man who walked in those impossible shoes says there is power in the space between, then that is a concept I can easily buy into.
When everything else is stripped away – choice remains. Whatever stimulus acts upon you such that your feelings become the driver of your response, the space between is invaluable. When a customer seems irrationally upset about an issue – the choice of how to listen and how to respond endures. When a family member, friend, co-worker, or boss is demonstrating heightened emotions – the space between their words and your response is available to you as valuable fertile soil to create an elevated, reasoned, and more loving reply.
I encourage you to seize the space between and allow it to manifest as growth in you.