The View From the Bridge
I had a dream…
Not the Martin Luther King Jr. type of dream; mine was more mundane until I started thinking about it.
I was walking down a wooded path, and I came to a bridge. There was a sign identifying the expanse.
A path diverged from the one I was on, leading down, twisting and turning in multiple switchbacks through dense forest, alternating with wide-open clearings. I was determined to get a better look before I committed myself to the descent and the unknown world at the bottom.
I couldn’t see the far side of the bridge, but it was well-made, and it appeared safe. The first twenty or thirty feet were child’s play. I looked over the railing at the scene below: mothers and fathers pushed daughters and sons on swings and spun them on merry-go-rounds. It was a pastoral scene, devoid of deception and lacking insincerity. They looked like they were enjoying themselves, and what could be less questionable than the love for a child? Everything appeared normal.
Twenty-feet further down the bridge, the scene changed.
The children were grown now, in their twenties, and pursuing lives of their own. They found love, and some lost it. They found hardships, and they overcame them: some of them. Some did not, and their lives took different paths; not necessarily good or bad, just different. The funny thing was, none of them questioned it. They never examined the reasons; they just relied on faith.
From the bridge, I could see it all, like I was God watching my creation. But there was a nagging feeling like I should be down there with them, suffering in the same interminable soup of indecision. I shook it off…
Twenty more feet got me closer to the other side and made me feel better until I looked over the edge. Half the children were involved in relationships they didn’t want, and the other half wasn’t sure. There was a small percentage that seemed happy until you dissected their goals, and then the disparities emerged—she held onto him, and he held onto her, for lack of a better choice. There were one in three that were truly happy, I watched them for a while, wondering what the secret was.
Ten more yards across the bridge I saw the results of the disparities: divorces, separations, children left with one parent, and one parent left wanting, and not always the best one for the job. I tried to reconcile it with my view of the world, but it didn’t fit. I guess I’m a romantic: things should come out fine, but they rarely do. People should stay together, once they’ve decided on it, but they don’t. What was the key? What did the small percentage of people seem to understand that eluded the rest of us?
I can’t say what that is, but I sat there in the middle of the bridge and pondered the question for the longest time. Hell, I’d been married, and not just once, so I was guilty of the ninety-percent mindset too, apparently. I’d just never seen it like that.
Three-quarters down the bridge, I felt a tug on my heart: one that threatened to pull me all the way across. It was painful, but not as painful as watching the scenes from the bridge. In fact, I almost welcomed it; a relief from the uncertainty that I was witnessing. The end of the ambiguity; a final answer. Any answer would be better than doubt…, and doubt was all I had…
I was almost there, and I wondered, what would I find on the other side, and what would I remember from the journey across the bridge? Is it all set? Do we have a choice? Or is it just the randomness of space pulling at us, twisting our results, leaving us wondering about truth, and doubting if we really make a difference?