When a train pulls into a Tube station in London a prerecorded announcement begins the mono-toned mantra urging people to, “Mind the gap”. The “gap” being the space between the sill of the train door and the edge of the platform. In some stations, the gap is relatively small. In others, it’s a gaping dark space like the entryway to Dante’s Hell, dredging up the admonition, “Abandon all hope ye who enter here”.
Whatever the size of the gap, you don’t want your foot, leg or your Mark’s and Spencer’s takeaway lunch dropping into that abyss. The persistent “Mind the Gap” is to be taken seriously because what goes in may never come out again, or at least not whole and functional.
We have now entered, as a world, into a gap. It is a gap between what we previously knew as our reality and where we will come out. This gap is what the New Age Psychology movement called the Psychedelic Gap. It came to be used to describe the space between known experience and unknown outcome. It’s the space that generates terror and also great creativity. We are now seeing both as the world descends into a Psychedelic Gap.
When all the energy we expend on our regular work lives is no longer consumed in the same way every day, vast amounts of human force is available for endeavors we didn’t have time for previously. People around the world who are in this unexpected and unprecedented reality created by the pandemic are finding ways to utilize this energy.
For all the misery we see and will see in the coming weeks and months, we will also see great creativity emerge in all occupations. If necessity is the mother of invention, then this pandemic is the Godfather of necessity. The push out of our pre-covid-19 life into the psychedelic gap we are experiencing will certainly bring out the best and the worst in the human sphere.
We’ve been dancing on the head of the pin for a long time and this pandemic has forced us off its limited real estate into the gap. We were warned long before this pandemic struck that it was coming. These warnings went unheeded by those who could have made a difference. It didn’t fit in a “very stable genius’s” anti-science agenda. It didn’t fit for an electorate that wanted to make America Great Again, to return to its glory days of no pollution controls, Jim Crow voting laws, cheap labor and Robber Barrons.
What can we do while we are in this psychedelic gap? First of all we must survive as best we can. But while we are doing that, we can use this time to imagine a world that isn’t OK with thousands of people in our cities living in tents or with no shelter at all. A world where the world’s wealth, created by every working person’s labor, is being captured by those who have figured out how to game the system into paying them more than they will ever need in this lifetime.
We can use this time to collaborate with each other to create the political will to end single use plastics that are choking our oceans. We can challenge our own thinking about what constitutes a healthy life. If so many people live in fear of not having medical coverage and those that do pay an ever increasing share of what they earn for medical care, how is that a healthy life?
In the past fifty years since the Viet Nam war virtually bankrupted America, we have been in a kind of economic arms race with ourselves and each other to avoid drowning economically and socially. Much of what any of us have gained has been threatened by this pandemic. Can we imagine and create an economy that doesn’t swell and deflate at devastating speeds?
While we are floating in this pandemic morass, I hope we will unleash the creative energy in all of us to first envision and then build a broad consensual base of ideas. I hope we develop the will to make changes, small and large, in the way we live that are healthier for the world and its ecosystems. If not, the staggering cost of the pandemic will be just that, a colossal loss for humanity and the world we live in.
First of all, I want to express my deepest, most heartfelt appreciation and respect for all of our fellow humans who are on the front lines of this pandemic. This includes, of course, the medical staffs, but also all the people who have continued to work to keep us fed, who still pick up our garbage, deliver our mail, who work at the checkout counter of our local grocery stores, who protect us at home and abroad. There are many, many heroes, including my dearest Sophie, an ER nurse. I pray for all of you every night.
If someone knows who coined the term, “Psychedelic Gap” and when it first appeared, I would appreciate being directed to that source.
Please do not assume I am anti-capitalism. I am not. I am, however, not for the wealth of the world that all working people contribute to, to be accumulated by an ever smaller segment of the population. Capitalism works. Unbridled greed does not.
And lastly, in appropriating the term, “Psychedelic Gap”, with the term “psychedelic” often attributed to the so called Hippy movement, I want to assure everyone that no Hippies were harmed in the writing of this essay.
Stay safe. Love the one you’re with. Communicate