One of my favorite parts of driving everywhere for work is whenever I get an opportunity to drive over bridges. Going north, I have my choice of the George Washington Bridge or the Tappan Zee Bridge. Heading south, like say to Atlantic City, I get to cross over the Driscoll Bridge which goes over the Raritan River. Did you know that Pittsburgh is second only to Venice for having the most bridges in the world? When I was there for work I made sure to book a river cruise sightseeing tour to go under or around as many as possible. Same for Chicago and even in New York, one of my favorite date options is to take a girl on a sightseeing tour of Manhattan that goes under every bridge around the island.
Obviously the question asks itself. ‘Man, why so fascinated by bridges?’ It, hopefully, isn’t for what you might think. See, most of the time when I hear bridges being mentioned either figuratively or literally, it is to discuss the importance of bridges as a means of ‘connecting’ people, places, or ideas. Bridges literally cover the great divide that separates us. And in that though, the inherent beauty of bridges is lost. People are so focused on getting from point A to point B that they forget to appreciate the path. Bridges unfortunately lose their individual value and are seen only as a means to an end.
I love bridges not just for what they do, but for what they are. Did you know that the George Washington Bridge’s towers were originally supposed to be covered in stone? The original design was meant to make it look like most other bridges at the time, constructed of stone and concrete. Once the Great Depression hit, the cost of procuring that amount of stone and installing it became much too impractical, and besides, the architects thought, there was a natural beauty in exposing the steel frame to the world. You can however, still see the giant hooks installed on the bridge to help hold and anchor the stone slabs.
Bridges are beautiful pieces of architecture and marvels of innovation and design. I love seeing them in the distance and watching them become larger than life as I get closer and eventually cross over them. When I was in Singapore I loved walking along the Helix Bridge at night. When people actually care about how they get from point A to point B, some beautiful things can be created just along the journey.
All this reminds me of a conversation I had with my cousin last weekend.We were discussing how to be more open-minded and non-judgmental. For her it was specifically a matter of craft and skill as being able to investigate multiple approaches, multiple perspectives, and multiple paths to a set point would allow her to broaden her range of expression and character development. But both of us could agree and appreciate the applicability of that flexibility when it came to relationships, expectations, life goals, etc.
See we are goal driven people. I think that’s true of most people actually. We have desires and wants and we are often more equipped to figure out what we want than we are given the tools to investigate how to get it. Being open to possibility and opportunity gives us more chances and instruments to get to where we want to.
What I wanted to share with my cousin, the point I wanted to get across to her, and now to you, is that sometimes letting go of control can still get you to the same destination and perhaps might even illuminate other things along the way.
Take for example, since she is studying to become an actress, the plot of a story in relation to its script and its characters. As the performer, you know that no matter what you do, no matter how you do it, or what you say or how you say it, the plot will continue. The play will end, the characters and conflicts will gain resolution, and all the major points that needed to be hit, will be hit. That’s point A to point B. So, wonderful, we can trust the process, trust the journey, know that we are aware enough to know the destination and set the objective, but we are flexible and open enough in how we get there.
That freedom, that license for investigation, that’s where the meat is. That’s where the fun is to be had. Where characters become more human because of the choices we make. NOT the choices in getting to point B, because that’s already been set for us. Just the choices in how we choose to get there. But we will, no matter what, get there. There’s less pressure on us when we think like that. When we trust our resolution and that the entirety of the summation of our decisions and choices will get us where we want, not just in every single minute one. That lets us be a bit more free, have a bit more adventure. That makes a performance unique because you had to fill in the space between A and B. You had to build your own bridge, not just march heavy footed across one already made.
So how does that then reflect back to relationships, of which the majority of the rest of us can still relate to, since not all of us possess the grace or poise of a thespian. Well, let’s take this past week for example. On Sunday while walking around with my cousin, and during the week when I was doing store visits around Manhattan, I couldn’t help but notice just how many beautiful women there were in the city. Riding on the subway, walking from station to destination, buying my bubble tea (ViVi Bubble Tea all the way), there’s no denying that a city as densely populated as New York is going to have a large population of attractive young women. I’d be lying if I didn’t say those little pangs of bitter loneliness didn’t spark every now and then. Of course being single and alone made me look at every one of these girls and feel the pain of loneliness and missing the company of a special someone.
And it would have been this pain that to me, was what I needed to build a bridge over. And if point A was me alone, point B was me with someone. And if I wanted to just get over that river as quickly and easily as possible, I would have thrown myself at online dating or just ask to be ‘set up’. But that is a fragile bridge and it lacks the beauty and substance and foundation of a bridge that is meant to stand for years to come and to be admired and appreciated and, most importantly, be one I would want to cross again.
I’m not slamming online dating or even the well-intentioned ‘set up’ of a friend. I’m saying I would never invest the time or energy to make it more than just something to keep me from getting my feet wet in the river or getting swept up in the current. What I want, what I need, what is important, is to realize that the bridge is part of the journey. I am not at point B yet, and I for the most part do not yet feel any pressure to start running. My bridge is strong and stable, and there is beauty in the architecture I have yet to unlock and appreciate. I know where my destination lies. There is a beautiful woman who will love me on the other side of this bridge. So I don’t have to worry about if my next step is the last one, because no matter how many steps it takes, I will get to the same place. Bridges aren’t meant to just be crossed as soon as possible. At least I hope more people can see it that way. They’re gorgeous and they often cross some of the most beautiful landscapes you can imagine. Long, winding, majestic structures that can take you across long distances or elevate you to a point where you can see for miles around.
I hope more people get a chance to appreciate them just for being there. It doesn’t matter where or when or how you find yourself at the beginning of one. Be brave enough not only to take the first step to cross, but be brave enough also to know you can take your time and trust whatever it is on the other side. After all, we aren’t exactly in the habit of creating bridges to nowhere.
Man: 95 Loneliness: 21