I am almost ashamed to admit it now but there was a time when one of my favorite sayings was “Build a bridge and get over it.” I quoted it to friends who were struggling with how to move on from difficult situations.
I meant well with those words. I thought it was good advice. Figuratively building a bridge to get from one place to another, and a way over difficult terrain. I haven’t thought about or used that phrase in a long time. I was reminded of it today when I was in my driveway because I could hear the noise from the machines that are pounding the steel supports into the ground for the new bridge that is being built to replace the causeway between Moncton and Riverview.
What I realized is that there are many steps to building a bridge, and now that I am older, I know that those steps are the same whether it is a bridge across water, or across time.
Before the work started on the bridge between Moncton and Riverview, there needed to be a road built that would redirect traffic around the site. How often do we “skirt the issue” and try to avoid dealing with it? Sometimes, like that road, it looks better than the way we have been doing things. It has a few twists and turns, a fresh base of asphalt, and bright new lane markings. It also creates a new traffic pattern, and we all learn how to navigate this new path. It doesn’t really change things though, it just gives us a different route to get to the same place.
Once that road was built, the next step was excavating the site, and building up the land around the supports would go. Dirt was moved and piled up into hills, which were then shaped into ramps. We do that too. We move things from one place to another, tearing down our stories and beliefs and rebuilding a new support.
Then came the steel supports that are being pounded into the ground. As I said, the sound travels, and we hear that steady beat daily. With all that pounding going on, you would think that you could see the progress of the pilings going into the ground. But when you drive past the site, it doesn’t look like anything is moving. Yet, there is a good base already in place, with more to come. Life is like that too. Moving through challenges often requires us to do the same thing over, with only the smallest steps forward. Then one day, everything is in place.
There are a lot of people working on this bridge, and all kinds of machinery. They are going to be at this for years, and it could be that some of the people who started on this project will not be there at the end. Each person has their area of expertise, and each has a job to do. That’s true of the people in our lives as well. Our support networks should be made up of a group of different “experts”, and none should be expected to be someone that they are not. We should be grateful for the people who come our way, and let them go if they need to, without guilt or shame.
The bridge is no where near finished, and for those of us not involved in the process, it’s not clear what is happening. Someone designed that bridge, and they know exactly how it will look, and what it will take to get it done. We design our own bridges, and even though it might not make sense to anyone else, we need to trust in our vision and how we will get there.
Once the bridge is complete, it will need regular maintenance. Our own bridges will need work as well, to maintain the integrity of the structure. It’s not always easy to trust in our own abilities to carry us over hard times, but with every bridge we build, we learn more about how strong and smart we are, and we move on.