Tossed Into the Gap

By Mike Johnson

School was over by 10:30 am.

Ripped from my childhood friends, home and school system, I was going through the motions at Dixie Hollins High.

Dad had moved us 1,800 miles south just before my senior year. I only needed a couple credits to graduate so had short days.

The move amplified our rocky relationship so I escaped by working fulltime at McDonald’s. Then I’d extend my escape by taking extra shifts from other employees.

Work was a couple miles from school. I didn't yet own a car so I hoofed it. A portable radio made those daily walks enjoyable. I play those 1975 tunes today because they pleasantly bring me right back.

I’d arrive to work for an 11:30 to 5 shift. If fortunate, I’d take someone else’s 5pm-to-closing shift and catch a ride home with another closer.

My stock was low at home but high at work. So work got all the time they would give me. I became a star there, which did wonders for my self-esteem.

I eventually realized my father had done me the favor of providing the chance to start over and reinvent myself. Free of my peer group, my life changed from a coasting, conforming resident to an enthusiastic, detached visitor.

By leaving Minneapolis and moving to St. Petersburg, my routines, habits & relationships were blasted to smithereens. Out with the old. It was a massive brain purge. The gaping holes had to be filled with something new. Something fresh.

Finding & developing these “somethings” put me upon my wits. And supercharged my growth in ways that never would’ve happened without the move.

I’ve had the chance to start over a dozen times in life. All reinventions had pain and exhilaration. All were needed to get me where I wanted to be.

To reach for something big and new, you have to let go of something big and old.

And experience the gap.

The gap is a place of uncertainty, doubt, fear and challenge. You’ve leaped but haven’t yet landed. Failure is possible. But learning, adventure and growth are certain. Reinventing yourself is FUN.

Whether you succeed or temporarily fail and adapt, these times in the gap will become your favorite memories. And if music is involved, your favorite playlists.

Make the move. Take the leap. Whenever you can, START FRESH.


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