Blog Post #15
noun: bridge; plural noun: bridges
1. a structure carrying a road, path, railroad, or canal across a river, ravine, road, railroad, or other obstacle.
"a bridge across the river"
· something that is intended to reconcile or form a connection between two things.
The other day, I passed a house that had a cute little footbridge spanning a faux rock creek bed in the front yard. After stopping to admire the scene for several seconds, I continued my errand, all the while wondering why the addition of the little wooden bridge made the scene so engaging, and if I would have even noticed that yard without it.
I think quaint, old, weathered bridges of wood or stone are charming and picturesque. Beginning in childhood, if I came upon a bridge—even if it was merely a flat slab of stone laid across a muddy flow mixed with rain-gutter run-off—I felt almost compelled to cross it, (provided it was wide enough for a generally klutzy person such as I to maneuver across without losing my balance and tumble into the mire). Let me note that a narrow, fallen log traversing a coursing river five or six feet above the waterflow does not have the same effect on my psyche. I am more inclined to take a picture of my wildly coordinated husband and children in such a scene than race to cross it myself.)
|Wide, with railing: Safe.|
Still, any footbridge that looks relatively safe calls to me, and I will go out of my way to cross it. If not to cross it, then to stand on it, leaning delicately on the railing, daydreaming and feeling picturesque myself—like a willowy fairytale figure who had lightly skipped to the rail, lingering there before flitting off, butterfly-like. (Then, someone really does snap a picture. When I see it, there is immediate shock and dismay. The picture my imagination took was, by far, more enchanting and attractive than the real thing. Instead of a graceful nymph bathed in soft, glowing light sprinkled with magical pixie dust, there—in the harsh reality of day—is the image of a frizzy-haired, T-shirted housewife leaning ponderously on the railing, as if every ounce of energy spent plodding along to the bridge had been exhausted, and its sole purpose was to bear her up.)
|Bridge scene from "The Lord of the Rings": Arwen and Aragorn|
Nevertheless, being on a bridge transforms me inside. There’s something mesmerizing about standing on a bridge watching the water gently pass beneath, with its floating cargo of leaf boats and twig sprites frolicking blithely along.
There’s something emotionally stirring about bridges. Moviemakers apparently think so. How many scenes of a romantic, tense, or threatening nature culminate on a bridge? (The Bridge Over the River Kwai, Anna and the King, The Music Man, It’s a Wonderful Life, Sabrina, Gone with the Wind, The Lord of the Rings, and The Bridge to Terabithia are just a few with moving scenes that occur on a bridge.)
Bridges have also inspired many songs. What child hasn’t heard the 17th century nursery rhyme about the ill-fated London Bridge? Everyone who lived in the late 1960s knew the fictional Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge (Ode to Billie Joe by Bobbie Gentry), while Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water moved listeners with the power of friendship.
A bridge, in very name, is more than a physical structure. It is a symbolic manifestation of its purpose. Maybe that’s the reason for my connection with bridges. Because they connect. They bridge gaps, overcome obstacles, link together, span chasms, and simplify journeys. Life is replete with obstacles—both physical and emotional. We step to the edge, and hope for a bridge to help us across. Sometimes, we wade in the muck before a large flat stone appears that provides a means of stepping up, and out.
I find it interesting that an arch bridge has no structural integrity until the stones meet in the middle at the keystone. It’s in the meeting of the two sides that gives the bridge its strength. Because placing the keystone can be a tricky business, scaffolding or other means of support are required to aid in construction. Once in place, an arched bridge needs no mortar to hold it together, and may stand for millennia.
So true of people, too. Once the keystone of a relationship is in place, it can stand the test of time. Obstacles of differing viewpoints, backgrounds, and habits flow like water under the bridge when people have struggled through building the abutments of a relationship and recognize the inherent keystone of worth in each other. In forming a bridge with someone, we bear one another’s burdens, we meet eye-to-eye, we understand through experience, we withstand tension, we create an equally firm and binding yoke that provides safe passage. Those relationships take on the substantial, but charming quality of a quaint old bridge: pleasing, aged, tried, solid, and true. Clinging, trailing vines of laughter, endurance, thoughtfulness, and kindness adorn and beautify life’s bridges, adding a cheering, optimistic aspect.
I suppose the bridge, the brook, and the flora and fauna might have been viewed from the riverbank. They make a pretty scene from any angle. However, I prefer to step on the bridge, to linger there, and to, eventually, cross over. Crossing to the other side to see from all angles makes the experience complete.
© Copyright July 31, 2014