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A TGB READER STORY: Building Bridges

By Michelle Collins

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 nowhere 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.

* * *

EDITORIAL NOTE: You are a prolific bunch of writers and there is now a backlog of reader stories to carry us almost to summer. So for awhile, I am not accepting new stories until we work through some of the ones already on the list.


Terrific writing, Michelle. I always thought of building bridges as the last option to a seemingly impossible way to move forward. More like facing a wide river that needs to be crossed.

And your paper today makes me rethink that, that perhaps it should be a primary option to solving a problem, whether chosen or not. It's better to consider and evaluate all possible solutions when figuring out what to do with a difficult situation, no matter the mess or fuss.

Your last sentence about personal trust is a reminder to take the accomplishment, the praise and the proudness consciously, and feel the strength you now own.

This is a keeper, Michelle. What insightful connections you have made, thank you.

Brilliant. Thank you.

Wise indeed

Building Bridges ~~ LOVED IT. I've been having a sorta rough time lately......who hasn't ?
Now I have newly found energy to tackle stuff, head on, and get over it. Thank you !

I, too, have often thought of difficult life transitions in terms of crossing a river. Bridge imagery didn't figure in for me though. I saw large rocks in the stream. They were not close enough to each other to step from one to the other, but with effort and planning, you could jump from one to the next. I often needed to rest, sometimes for quite a while, before attempting my next move. While recovering, I wasn't making any progress to the security of the far shore, but the time was necessary to recover, gather strength and strategize. Progress was slow, sometimes painfully so, but while resting I was safe. What I realized was that the only time I was making progress was while I was mid-air, ungrounded, alone and trusting in my own abilities. That imagery has helped me through more than one crisis.

What a great metaphor, Michelle. Thank you for your insightful and valuable story.

A thank you to billinDHS .

Earlier , this comment brought up points I understand also.

Sometimes it CAN feel as though we have come to a "Red Sea" time in our lives. Can't go back, can't go around; the only way is through. I cannot remember where that notion actually came from, yet it has been helpful to me many times.

I would like to suggest a memoir by Sam Keen I came upon during a very difficult time in the late '90s. It is "Learning to Fly: Reflections on Fear, Trust, and the Joy of Letting Go".

Just thinking about this makes me want to read it again, if my Library still has a copy. Even though he chose his 'challenge' in this tale, it is so well written it was inspiring on many levels in a time of unsettling fear.

This has my upvote!

A shout out to Charlene. I ordered the book from Amazon. Looking forward to reading it. What a wonderful community Ronnie has created.


Great analogy!

Thank you for the bridge metaphor. I am trying to make a major change in my life and this metaphor is very helpful.

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