Crossing the Bridge

There comes a point when the only option is to cross the bridge. No matter how rickety or poorly constructed it may seem and irrespective of the pace or iciness of the waters below, the only road to the rest of your life involves crossing the bridge. Time is on a route march and it doesn’t care much for sorrow, sentiment or sickness; it spares no thought for the down-hearted, despondent or disillusioned. Time goes on and like it or not, so must we.

Old packhorse bridge (c.1717), Carrbrig, Scotland

Old packhorse bridge (c.1717), Carrbrig, Scotland

In clinging to the past we slip out of time. Slowly but surely life passes us by yet we fail to realise  until sometime later, when we perhaps begin wondering where the days, months or years went and how and why we didn’t notice them. Offloading all that baggage and leaving it by the river’s edge isn’t easy. Disentangling the past and setting it down in its rightful place takes thoughtful deliberation, acceptance of what was and complete renunciation of what might, could or should have been. How many times have you heard yourself (and others) talk about the way things should or shouldn’t be? The truth is, there is only what was, what is and that which is yet to come – should, could and might are all irrelevant and leave us stuck in a rut.

To get out of the rut we have to cross the bridge and the only way to do so safely is by travelling unladen. We can’t live for today until  we forgo being cemented in the past.   Fortunately once we build sufficient fortitude to put one foot in front the other, take our chances and walk across the bridge, everything changes. We flow in time. Life is lived in the here and now, in this very moment. Living is very different because here and now is full of sound, colour, wonder and a smorgasbord of new choices; it’s the polar opposite of everything in the world of ‘back then.’  I don’t recall being taught how to manage the past, to leave it in it’s rightful place by the edge of the river and continue with my journey in time. Its a skill that could useful be taught to high school seniors because all too often I am surrounded by folks who are completely trapped in time, rooted by events that happened years or even decades ago. I always try to help, to share coping strategies or suggest appropriate sources of professional help because being empathic isn’t the same as being a psychologist. Empathy exists because I’ve had many of my own bridges to cross and I stopped to take note of each lesson along the way.

I don’t deny crossing life’s bridges unencumbered by the debris and detritus of countless events that cannot be changed is sometimes difficult, even when practiced continually on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s a daunting prospect, but that doesn’t make it impossible.  This year, especially today, I realise I’ve crossed and walked some way from another bridge – one I hesitated to traverse for a multitude of reasons.   It’s the bridge from active cancer patient to healthy human being, from constant companion to casual acquaintance, from broken to steadfast.  I can’t pinpoint exactly when the bridge was crossed, when the heavy baggage of cancer and so many shattered promises got dropped at the side of the riverbank. I don’t know when the waters rose up to wash it all away, I just know that its gone. It seems this happened slowly, almost subconsciously, throughout the course of the year and for the first time in two years there’s room in my head to properly relish each day as it comes. The time of fretting about what tomorrow might hold (all firmly rooted in an army of negative experiences from the past) is gone and this, I think, is what it means to be free.

We all have demons in the closet, painful events, disappointments, scars and injuries, but we don’t have to be ruled by them. We can chose to lock the door behind them and walk away or drop them at the edge of the river, cross the bridge and let the waters wash them far out to sea. For however long I have here I’ll take the opportunity to drop life’s baggage at the banks of each river and skip across the bridge to whatever happens next. Today, cancer, (and all the ills you wrought upon me), I am over you. Guess what, it feels good :-).

 

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17 thoughts on “Crossing the Bridge

  1. Woo Hoo ~ I LOVE THIS POST!!! Drop the worries, the fear and all that it encompasses ~ move over that bridge to accept the present with good health, much love and light and the knowledge hat we always have the ‘presents of presence’ in our hearts, minds and souls! ♥

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  2. Pingback: Weekly Round Up | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  3. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful and inspiring piece Tracy. I am almost embarrassed to admit that this is my first “thank you” – as I have followed your blog for a number of months now, having tread a similar path to yours. Indeed it was your blog’s title that hooked me in the first place! I wish you great health, and infinite peace. You have taught me a lot about myself, and life. With smiles, hugs, and love…

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    • No need to be embarrassed Margarita, I’m just glad that you’re here, doing well and if in some small way this blog has helped then that’s a nice bonus for both of us 🙂 I hope life is now treating you more kindly and likewise wish you very good health and a long and brilliant path ahead. Though I would never wish this on anyone I have met some of the nicest people in the world because of this experience and I wouldn’t change that part of it for one moment. Sending you happiness, love and joy always xoxox

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  4. Another lovely piece of writing Tracy I wish everyone could see life with such a positive outlook including me. .it would be great if we all could look at life through rose tinted glasses,xxxx

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    • It is not without considerable effort but I’m not sure, given everything that has happened, that I could’ve survived any other way without becoming incredibly bitter or despondent. There must be something other than cancer in my genes because I’d have given up long ago without it. For as long as I can remember I’ve had to make my own luck. Nothing has ever been easy or straightforward for me and I guess after 40-odd years of that you realise life is hard and you either make the most of it or jump off something very high. As I don’t deal with heights very well that one wasn’t an option :-). Sending you much love, you are always in my thoughts xxx

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    • thank you Elizabeth, it has been a long time coming and you know the journey we have to go on and how many tricks it can play on us. I hope you’re doing well

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    • Thank you Sandy, though nothing can every be taken for granted this side of the bridge has many advantages now the past is where it ought to be.

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  5. dear Tracy,

    oh, how liberating it must feel to have laid the baggage aside, and to have crossed those bridges. I cling to your words here, so full of inspiration and hope, to meet head-on the encumbrances of the past, and those perceived whenever I get tangled up in fretting and worrying about the future. I am getting better at not allowing that tangled web to even get started – it takes a lot of mindfulness and determination, but it is so worth it. and I agree – having a course in school would be so helpful! thank you for this beautiful and insightful post.

    much love,

    Karen xoxo

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    • Dearest Karen, I am always happy to see you here and know the path you’re having to walk is especially challenging. You continue to shine like a beacon for all who know you in the real and virtual worlds and I hope in some small way our collective mindfulness, determination and empathy helps create a web of calm and hope for everyone facing these difficult challenges. I know that I would not be where I am now had it not been for the kindness, support and wisdom of our community.
      Sending you much love xoxox

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      • oh, Tracy,

        thank you! it means so much to me to feel I am contributing something; grief sometimes steals away our ability to get outside of ourselves, so showing appreciation, support, empathy, validation, and love is what keeps me afloat. and I truly feel that web of calm and hope and love I am so fortunate to receive from our community.

        much love and gratitude to you, my dear Tracy,

        Karen xoxoxo

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  6. It’s so good to hear you saying this. How I wish they would make it a school course! It seems very easy in a logical sense to let go of the past, yet it can gain an insidious strangle hold on our lives, paralyzing us from growing and taking steps toward a better future.

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    • I think it might help us all if we were better prepared, more able to distinguish and deal with the things that hold us back and pin us to the past. Its a shame we have to get so far though our lives without this essential skill!

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