Having worked on drawbridges for over 12 years, I’ve come to know how strongly many people feel about bridges in general. Just publish your plans to demolish or replace one, and brace yourself for the public outcry. People love to walk and jog across bridges, and many’s the time I’ve witnessed marriage proposals. Fishermen often have their regular spots staked out, and people love to hop out of their cars during bridge openings to enjoy the weather. For some inexplicable reason, the mentally ill are drawn to bridges as well.
Another strange thing about bridges is that people view them as bigger barriers than regular streets, even if they are fixed span bridges with no chance of causing a delay. People will not hesitate to take a 10 minute drive on an interstate which has the same length of road without exits as even the largest of bridges possesses, but if their route contains a bridge, that same 10 minute drive is viewed as a hassle to be avoided.
What do bridges symbolize to people? In the tarot, the bridge card means progress, connections, and stability. Often people view bridges as the only way to reach a destination, and therefore bridges are a way to overcome obstacles. Bridges also represent transitions. “Crossing over” is a euphemism for taking that journey from life to death. Perhaps that’s also why so many people use bridges when they’ve made the unfortunate decision to end their lives, a decision which, speaking from personal observation, is made far more frequently than is reported in the media, and is also a decision which they instantly regret, judging from their screams on the way down. You can be fairly certain that any bridge that you cross that is more than 40 feet above the water has been a place where someone has died.
Perhaps my favorite bridge symbol, though, is that of hope. If you can just get over that bridge, you may find yourself in a better place on the other side. Some bridges are harder to cross than others. If you’re afraid of heights they can be scary. If feeling the surface shaking below your feet unsettles you, then your crossing can pose a challenge, but trust me, that challenge is deceiving. You do NOT want to be on a rigid and inflexible bridge. Not if you want to live. So in some ways bridges can represent a struggle, but one with the prospect of better things on the far shore. I find that inspiring.
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I went to an amazing event the other day. It was for the premier of a movie called “The Red Tent: Things We Don’t Talk About”. This was a ladies only affair, and as well as the screening of the movie, there was a drum circle, belly dancing, handmade jewelry, tarot readings, massages, a raffle, and henna tattoos. I have a weakness for henna tattoos, so I got one, and I won two things at the raffle: two life coaching sessions and a Rhythm Acupuncture session, so I was rather chuffed at the end of the evening.
But by far the most profound experience was learning about the Red Tent Movement. The founder of this movement, ALisa Starkweather, has a website and a Facebook page that will provide you with much more information than I can, but what I came away with was this: Women do not gather the way they used to. At one time, in many cultures, women would get together during their monthly cycles, and at this time they could talk about their lives, tell their stories, support and nurture each other, and benefit from each others’ strength and wisdom. In this fast-paced world, the fact that we do not do this anymore is a great loss.
Red Tents are becoming very popular again, thanks to this movement. These gatherings can be places to talk, to do self-care and nurturing exercises, drum circles, singing, all sorts of things, depending upon the strengths and talents of the women involved. They are places where you can learn to love who you are, and know that you are enough. A place where women can raise each other up.
Once I’m in a stable living situation, wherever and whenever that may be, I fully intend to start a Red Tent in my area. Just from the small taste I got of it the other night, it is empowering. As I learned about the lives of women and their challenges and tragedies and triumphs, I looked around and realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I was in a space where there was not a single drop of testosterone added to the mix. And it’s true, it’s a different atmosphere. Much more accepting. No teasing or cruelty or aggression. It was like dropping a great weight and being allowed to be myself. Say how I really feel, without being laughed at. Shed tears without being perceived as weak or manipulative. Show strength without being perceived as a b**ch.
Men have never lost these gatherings. Clubhouses where no girls are allowed. Sports venues. Poker games. They realize the value of communing with their own gender, although they would probably never vocalize it in this manner. But it’s time that we women get back to that, too.
If you hear of a red tent in your area, I strongly encourage you to get involved. You might just find something within yourself that you never knew was missing.
(Photo credit: http://www.elevated-health.com.)