Category Archives: Philosophy

Bridges to Nowhere

“Life is too short to build bridges to nowhere.”
Chuck Wendig

When life gets away from me, often the first thing to suffer is this: my blog. Clearly, life had gotten away from me for quite a while of late, as my last post was back in April. Of 2016.

You may notice, attentive, observant reader that you are, that this here quote is the most recent quote I posted. When I stopped by the other day to measure the extent my blog neglect, I saw this quote and I couldn’t help noticing how appropriate it was to recent developments in my life.

It’s easy to get caught up in the cyclical, habitual nature of one’s day-to-day experience – the job, the relationship, all the little things that make up a life. And it’s easy, too easy I suspect, to get all wrapped up in that minutiae and to forget to step back and look at where you’re going. (There’s a machete in the jungle metaphor hiding out in here as well, but that’s a story for another time.)

Let’s look at relationships for a moment (the romantic, build-a-life-with-your-partner kind of relationship) and wade through this bridge metaphor:

You meet someone who seems pretty awesome.

You let yourself get carried away with the NRE and the moment.

You start making plans with this person.

You lay a foundation for those plans, for that future that you see with that person.

You build, build, build.

You notice along the way that, perhaps, you are not both building this thing in the same direction; or, perhaps only one of you is actually laying any stones; or, you’re laying stones, and s/he is laying kumquats.

You ignore these problems, perhaps because you’re already so invested in this structure; perhaps because you were so busy laying your stones that you didn’t notice that you were the only one; perhaps because, in a certain light, those kumquats looked an awful lot like stones.

Perhaps some of these problems were addressed along the way – you noticed a kumquat and replaced it with an actual stone; or, you and your partner reoriented and built in the same direction for a bit; or, what have you.

But then, when something happens that causes the gap of missing stones to give out or the weight of rock on top of kumquat to finally squash everything into a gooey, sticky mess, you finally step back and assess the wreckage, perhaps paired with a sense of relief or some shock (maybe even both). And here, in this assessment, you see where everything started to go wrong – maybe it was subtle, like how you were building north, but your partner slowly began to veer a bit to the east; maybe you look back and wonder how you could have possibly mistaken all those kumquats for stones, after all, it’s so obvious now that they look nothing alike!

A photo of kumquats.
Kumquats: Not an effective bridge-building material.

And then you see that the bridge you were building was never going to make it to its destination – maybe the destination you were building toward was just a mirage, or the bridge simply couldn’t support the weight of everyone’s conflicting expectations.

So you find yourself sitting here in the murky water, amidst the rubble and the kumquats, with mud in your boots and kumquat juice in your hair, and you wonder if maybe bridges just aren’t your thing. After all, you aren’t some fancy bridge architect! Oh, sure, you may have won the bridge building contest in your 11th  grade Physics class, but what do you really know about the structural integrity of kumquats?!

Well, you know that kumquats probably shouldn’t be used to build bridges…

Then, while assessing the damage, you realize how that foundation you were building wasn’t really dependent on that other person – it’s your foundation, and all of those stones haven’t washed away just because the rest of that bridge is gone.

And you realize that you’re not going to swear off bridges.

What you are going to do, however, is try to learn from this kumquat-ridden mess and take some time to clear off the foundation you’ve that put so much blood and sweat into. It’s a good foundation, full of completed degrees and a successful career and progressing life goals, and one of these days, someone will come along who’s building his own bridge, with a solid, non-kumquat-based foundation, and you’ll decide to combine your powers and build a new bridge together.

And maybe you’ll step back more often to check that bridge’s progress and to look for those kumquats and missing stones.

And maybe, just maybe, that bridge will reach its destination.

Quote

You can’t find intimacy – you can’t find home – when you’re always hiding behind masks. Intimacy requires a certain level of vulnerability. It requires a certain level of exposing your fragmented, contradictory self to someone else.

Junot Diaz

Quote

That country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain.

Ray Bradbury

Missing You

Absence.

We don’t often speak about absence.
About the people in our lives who aren’t physically present.

GP posted the following earlier tonight, and it resonated with me:
If my absence doesn’t affect your life, then my presence has no meaning in it.

It’s a striking thought, no?

People come into our lives all the time – friends, family, colleagues, peers, neighbors, acquaintances, and even strangers – all of these can make an impact, even in only the shortest instance of interaction.

Some of these people sick around once they’ve arrived. They walk beside you and, even when their paths stray from yours, they’ll wander back eventually. Some are merely a blip in the long. winding adventure. Some we leave behind willingly, some simply drift away.

They say that ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder,’ but I think that, perhaps, absence makes one realize where the heart truly lies.

For it is when someone is absent, in that moment when you feel that ache of longing, that wish to see his eyes, to hear her voice, to feel a touch, to share a moment, that you truly know what someone means to you.

And this is the moment in which to reach out. To let that someone know the impact he has on your life. A text. A call. A letter. Something. Anything. This is the moment to show someone that she is important, that he matters, that she makes a difference in your life, that your existence is brightened by his presence.

How will they know, if we don’t tell them?