Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Most Important Space in Your Life

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The Space

There is a space in our lives that haunts every single one of us.

It seems wider than the Grand Canyon. It feels deeper than the ocean’s greatest abyss. It contains obstacles more daunting than the climb up Mt Everest.

It is the most important space in our lives.

And cross it we must.

It is the chasm between where we are now and where we want to be. It is the difference between the work that we do now and the real work, the art, that we desire to do. It is the difference between being mediocre and becoming someone remarkable.

This space exists between the beginning and the end. The space between now and someday. Between birth and death.

This space exists between the story that we are telling with our lives now and the story that we desire to tell.

It is the space of personal transformation.

The Distance

When we sit back and dream, the process of becoming something better seems simple. Our goal does not appear to be that far out of reach.

  • We imagine that if we write, people will start reading.
  • If we take photographs others will buy the prints.
  • If we open a new store, customers will walk in, cash in hand.
  • If we ask the girl out to the prom and then we will live happily ever after.

In many ways it is that simple. All you have to do is get started.

But most of us don’t. We fail before because we never begin. We never take the first step.

We are afraid that people won’t read the book, that our photographs will be judged as worthless, that nobody will enter the store.

We are afraid the girl will say no.

So we never begin our work, opting instead to dream about the other side of this space.

Some do get started. They have more ambition, but their resolve falters once the transformation process begins.

Like the formation of a callus, they give cup once the friction starts and the process becomes painful.

photo by Steven Shorr (Creative Commons)

The Bridge

The space is like a large body of water that we need to get across.

We wish it was as easy as hopping in a luxury sedan, putting the car on cruise control, and enjoying the ride as we cross the bridge.

But there isn’t a bridge. It doesn’t exist because we haven’t built it.

We are more like pioneers crossing rivers and canyons in a wooden wagon and an ox, armed only with stubborn resolve and a love for the work.

It might even feel like this space is trying to kill you, because in many ways it is.

It is the process of putting your old self to death.


This space will tell you that tomorrow is a better day to get started than today. It tells you that you need to first develop the perfect plan before you begin. It tells you that you have plenty of time to make a difference.

It is lying.

If you listen to the lies, then before you know it, this space has devoured the one thing you need most. Time.

On the other hand, time can be your ally. If you keep doing the work day after day, if you show up in this space, prepared to take another step across the gorge, then eventually you will cross it.

It is a process that takes time.

The sooner you begin, the sooner you will find yourself on the other side.

Have you taken the first step? Tell us what is was like in the comments.

This post was inspired by the Luminous Project. Luminous is an event in Nashville for creatives on May 9-11, 2012. To find out more, check out You can use the promo code ‘luminousLOVE’ to get 30% off the ticket price.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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20 Replies

  1. So true. Anything worth doing will be painful, and you’re right, the process of getting to work is the process of killing off our old selves. That reminds me that creativity is so completely intertwined with spirituality, God’s love. I have difficulty getting out of bed EVERY morning, and it never gets easier. But I’m seeing a world of improvement with my writing. I love this idea of space. It’s daunting but exciting. I’d rather life be difficult and full of adventure than simple and boring.

  2. Beginning sometimes is the hardest…at least that’s how its been for me. Amazing what happens when we are consistent day after day. Suddenly things get done and for myself I know I’ve started discovering new things about myself…that I didn’t know were in me:-) Thanks for the reminder and thought-provoking post!

  3. We trick ourselves into thinking that safe is the way to go. It isn’t. Safe only gets you to death safely. To truly live means to push past safe into something incredible. 

    I agree with you about creativity. He is creative and he made us like him, to create. I saw a beautiful scene this morning that intertwined both of these, divine and human creativity.

  4. I love the idea about discovering new things about yourself. Good for you Lorna. There is so much there to discover, keeping working and challenging you.

  5. Love this. Love the story you’re living, Jeremy. It’s inspiring.

  6. Mark

    Sometimes God creates the push to get started.  I’ve been praying about career change for quite some time.  God has been preparing me and creating a vision in my mind of a place he wants to take me.  Two weeks ago my company released me quite unexpectedly but when I went through my journal for the past several months I realized that what really happened was God pushing me to start across the bridge.  Thanks for your thoughts, God used them to confirm his plan for me.

  7. I love how you view losing your job as an opportunity, because that’s exactly what it is. Sometimes God pushes, but sometimes he waits for you to jump. This is faith. Doing impossible things without a clear view of the outcome. Let me know how it goes, Mark.

  8. The anticipation is both greater and worse than the action necessary. It seems much harder to start than it is and it looks much easier than it will be. However nothing changes without the step.

    We sold it all and moved to Paraguay as independent missionaries. We had to sever 2 years of work because of an accident and finally we are ready to get back in the thick of it. But where?

    We are touring prospective cities and straining to hear HIS voice say “Here.” Tough stuff because some are easier work than others. 

    Great post!

  9. It’s funny how we focus on the anticipation. We are like kids afraid of something only because it is new or different.

    Thanks for sharing some of your story, Ken. I would love to hear more.

  10. Doctor J……..once again you hit one over the fence that lands in my yard….thanx
    en theos…jim

  11. I’ll give you the quick here. I had open heart surgery unexpectedly in Dec 2010. In Feb 2011(2 months later) my wife was hit by a truck while riding a motorcycle to tribal language class. It was a direct hit to her femur shattering it. We had to permanently relocate closer to the capital for therapy and care. After 2 surgeries and 2 different plates and screws she is recovering to the point it is time to find that new place.

    I and my wife have chronicled some of this on our blogs. Thanks for asking.

  12. Wow. You did get pushed. I’m glad that you both are coming out on the other side of these things.

  13. Jeremy, such a fantastic post. So well written. I love this part- 
    On the other hand, time can be your ally. If you keep doing the work day after day, if you show up in this space, prepared to take another step across the gorge, then eventually you will cross it.

    Waiting or patience is exactly what we DON’T WANT. We want things RIGHT NOW. 

  14. Ryan

    This is probably one of my favorite things I’ve read in a very long time. One of the problems is that once we find out the terrible truth of the space’s lie, we then begin to believe that the dream was never realistic, and definitely not for someone like us…and it reinforces the space and makes it wider than ever.

  15. When what we want doesn’t magically appear, we often give up. Instead we need to work patiently, realizing that it does take time. Thanks, Jim.

  16. Agreed. The space wants you to think you aren’t good enough. That’s why you focus on the work, not the outcome. I appreciate your comment, Ryan.

  17. Nice article. Love the point about taking the first step. After thinking and wanting to do for a year, i finally took the first step of starting a blog. It’s true. We wait to get perfect before starting, but forget that perfection is schieved by doing, not preparing to do.

  18. Glad to see you get started. I hope it’s the first step on an incredible journey.

  19. Right on! Thank you for reminding me to keep pushing ahead. I’ve taken my first steps this week. I’ve used Amazon Digital Publishing to get both my fiction and non-fiction book out to the world. I’m starting up a writing blog as well. I’m not going to lie. As a full-time English teacher, it is very difficult to balance my time effectively; but, through reading through your blog posts I’m finding the strength to continue on. To push ahead. Thanks again!

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