Bridge Building

Several years ago, while visiting Fisherman’s Wharf, I touched a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge which was part of a small scene constructed and sold by an artist. As I fingered the delicate arch, I wished with all my heart for a fleeting moment, that I could actually see the “real” Golden Gate Bridge.

When I walk the G.G.B., my feet touch it; my hand trails the railing. I hear the rumble of traffic, feel its vibration in my whole body. The tang of the salt water tickles my nose; the wind pushes against me… It’s an awesome experience: the sense of space, depth, loftiness.

Sighted people see the bridge, its orange color, its graceful arch, its mighty towers. That sight brings, they tell me, a sense of awe and wonder, a realization of how a dream can become solid, an awareness of the great height, depth and distance a bridge spans.

Watch PBS and you can learn its history, – the vision required to imagine and draw it, the skill needed to engineer its construction, the courage and investment of time, money, emotion and lives, that went into its creation. Bringing that symbolic structure in to being required risk, with a capital R.

What brought all of this to mind was a friend’s describing “arching her back” to do a certain exercise. “Arch,…” I thought, “Arch. Bridge…” And it came to me: “How can I become a bridge?” And, for that matter, how can you?

Bridging a gap is a common enough metaphor. Sometimes though, I think we’re more focused on the “gap” part of the metaphor rather than the “bridging.” What is it about us humans that seeing lack or gaps is easier than seeing the way to connect the separate, distant, seemingly unrelated or unconnectable? I don’t know about you, but I certainly get gap-crazy sometimes.

Maybe it’s time for me, and you, to get “bridge-oriented”.

Inspired, wanting to make the bridging a body-memory, I stand up from my computer chair, arch my back, stretch from the tips of my toes to my hands as my arms reach toward the sky. What will I, what can I, bridge? What investment am I willing to make to imagine that bridge, describe that bridge, create that bridge? Maybe it’s the bridge between parts of my inner self that seem in conflict, or parts of my outer life that currently compete for my attention or seem to stretch me too far in ways I can’t manage.

Or, maybe the challenge is to be a bridge between two groups of people, blind people and sighted people, for example.

What can you, will you, bridge? What is needed to cross the empty space? Faith in the value of bringing together two whatevers: people, families, groups; imagination to see what elements of each are embodied in yourself, the bridge. And, oh yes, willingness to RISK, with a capital R.

I leave it to you to envision, imagine and explore all the kinds of bridges you can be.

Whether we bridge a creek, a small stream, a river, or the San Francisco Bay, it’s the spanning that counts, the flexibility, the staying strong, the commitment. So go on now, and build yours!