The sea does not meet the sky. They kiss only
in our minds. They are priceless in that space
which recedes forever where we make them lovers
‘Those Others’ from Ian Wedde
For a little while now I have been trying to think about the gaps of life. Bit of a hard task, trying to think the negative. Like Ian Wedde implies, we tend to close in the gaps, we tend to talk as if they don’t exist – as if the sea and the sky really kiss. We even have a name for that imaginary meeting of sea and sky; we call it the horizon.
But we don’t have a name for the actually existing gap between the sea and sky; for what Wedde describes as “that space which recedes forever”. We have a name for the lie of their touch but not for the truth of their separation. Strange situation.
The gap I’ve been thinking about is the gap between problem and solution. If this gap has a name, perhaps it’s something like ‘waiting’ or ‘uncertainty’. Our problems come to us alone; we do not receive our problems with accompanying readymade solutions (if this is the case then we didn’t really have a problem to begin with). So all we can do is learn to sit in the problem before us, with the solution far off in the distance, unknown at that moment and, (only perhaps) received much later on. It doesn’t need to be a passive waiting, but some waiting has to take place.
Sometimes my peers studying politics hate me for living this way, telling me again, “do not go on critiquing unless you’re going to give me an answer”, or a little more ethically charged “while you sit here thinking another child in Syria dies”.
But there is no other way from problem to solution than through the gap in between. Life is not like the advert tries to make it: “do you have a problem? Well I have the solution for you!” Rather, the tight embrace of problem and solution – like sea and sky – is true only in our imaginations.