You are currently browsing the daily archive for November 8, 2009.

In my early forties, I developed a fear of heights and subsequently of bridges.  I remember walking with Kelsea in the Eno River Nature Preserve.  It was a beautiful summer day and we came to a swinging rope and wood bridge.  Kelsea trotted merrily across, thinking that the bouncing of the bridge when she jumped up and down on it was extremely cool.  I started across, got about halfway and stopped.  I couldn’t go any farther.  I was frozen.  Petrified.  Kelsea, on the other side, didn’t take it seriously.  She kept stepping onto the bridge to bounce me.  I had no idea what I was going to do.  I couldn’t just stay in the middle of a little bridge (that wasn’t even that high) for the rest of my life.  I was just being completely silly.  So I pulled myself up and kept going to the other side.  I couldn’t show Kelsea that irrational fear could get the best of me. 

I’ve had similar experiences since.  But I’ve noticed that it’s improving.  I feel braver than I have in a long time.  And that’s helping me beat the little irrational fears (except the fear of yeast.) 

Bridges highlight the separateness of two worlds, while providing a connection between those worlds.  But when on a bridge, you are in the physical reality of “betwixt and between”.  You are not in either place, in either world.  You are in the air, at risk of falling, in danger of the tenuous firmament beneath your feet collapsing, dropping you, helplessly spinning to a place below, a hell, a death, a river, a canyon.  It is something that must be crossed to transition.

There’s special symbolism in bridges and my fear of them, given this time in my life and circumstances.  I have spent years in between one shore and another, one life and another, one island and another.  The divorce, while a rift, has also been a bridge for me.  It is both the chasm and the crossing.

I am moving across this span to a new future.  The only problem is that I can’t see what’s on the other side.  Today, I am in the middle of the bridge and feeling shaky, low on confidence, even though I am brave.  I need a hand to hold, someone on the other side cheering me on — well, I don’t NEED that, but it would be nice.  The bridge can be a lonely place.  But there is no turning back.  I may not know what’s on the other side, but whatever it is, it is what I have chosen.  I just hope it’s warm there.  And that I am not crossing the River Styx.

Bridge and Pier

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