The Story Behind “A Bridge Crossed”

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Every Sunday for the last few months, I’ve posted a photograph and lines of poetry (or musings) inspired by my  journey to London.  Sundays in London has been a cathartic experience as it has slowly lead me to a deeper understanding of why I was so driven to spend an extended period of time in a place so far from home.  My journal is filled with meandering thoughts fraught with both epiphanies and questions, while my pictures captured every nook and cranny of my surroundings, but nothing fit together for a definitive answer.  The experience as a whole was life-altering, though I could not decipher how and why.  All I knew was something deep inside of me had indelibly changed, (See Finding True North).

The lines I wrote for A Bridge Crossed began in London, but only in small fragments.  At the time, I didn’t have enough understanding to give my disjointed words a voice.  The finished poem is representative of the answer I’ve been seeking for the better part of a year.  After much contemplation and creative wandering, I know why I went to London.

Almost immediately after my return, I kept thinking, “I learned I was a lot stronger than I thought.” The only thing I couldn’t figure out what was why this mattered so much.  I already knew I was a strong person, so I let the idea sit and expand until it chose to tell me more.

Ultimately, the answer hit me in one big swoop, damn near knocking me out of my seat.  I still don’t know what triggered the thought, but I’m not one to question inspiration.  What matters is that I have my answer.  London showed me how strong I have to be to reach my dreams.  Despite being in a place  I loved, I was alone, overwhelmed, disoriented, and completely out of my element.  And there was no one to run to except myself.  I eventually found my groove and embraced every sensation, but this was a hard path to find.

Writing feels much the same way as isolating yourself in a foreign place.  Along with all of the above, there is rejection (and a lot of it), frustration, fear, and doubt.  A list like this puts a serious dent in strength and determination, sometimes to the point of giving up.  Courage doesn’t come free and strength comes at a price.  I have to be willing to endure everything that tries to knock me down.  I must remain standing no matter how difficult or demoralizing it gets.  As London showed me, being stronger than the impediment has an immense payoff for through the heavy fog there is the realization of a dream.

There is a difference between understanding what it means to be strong and knowing from experience what it is to be strong.  I can do anything and I can take a few punches, too.  Some may call me crazy for learning this lesson halfway around the world, but I honestly can think of no better place.  London got under skin from the very first moment I saw it and has never let go.  I hope it never does.

Houses of Parliament, London, June 2011, c.b.w.

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c.b. 2012

30 thoughts on “The Story Behind “A Bridge Crossed”

  1. There’s no substitution for epiphanies. And if we didn’t have some “tough times”, our subconscious wouldn’t bother to bubble up characteristics that we already have and will need for future endeavors. Maybe because of where you were, and alone, and disorientated, you had to draw on strength you already had but weren’t aware of. The funny thing I’ve found about life is that it only extracts the price of what we have to pay. And about the time we get done patting ourselves on the back for recognizing our courage/worth/value/good ideas, life throws us into another situation forcing us to step up and use our new-found characteristic. “A Bridge Crossed”-literal and metaphorical. Here’s to the many more bridges, mountains, valleys, meadows, deserts, and oceans that life will require of us in order for the reward to live our dreams and be all that we are meant to be.

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    • In this instance, I seem to have thrown myself into the situation. It was a weird pull that I could not ignore and I’m glad I didn’t. London was a spectacular experience, even though it threw me for a loop for a little while.

      Without epiphanies, we’d never grow. And truthfully, who doesn’t love the jolt of an epiphany? The thrill is quite intoxicating. 🙂

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  2. Loved this post. Indeed London gave you a special piece of your heart like nowhere else has. I would bet that if you close your eyes you can see it, hear it, smell it, and feel the feeling you had walking around…..may London reign in your heart as long as you need it to!

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    • I go there almost every day in my head, because I can hear, smell, and feel every part of it as though I were still there. The first time I ever went was back in 2003 and I knew the moment my foot touched the ground that I had come home. It still feels that way, though now even more so.

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  3. What an amazing journey. I love where you said “being stronger than the impediment has an immense payoff for through the heavy fog there is the realization of a dream.”
    The changes in you have been tremendous and I just can’t imagine how it feels to have this epiphany. Thank you for sharing with such inspiring words.

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    • The other part of this is yet to come . . . I’m still trying to figure out how to write about it. Home looks different since I’ve come back and even though almost a year has gone by, nothing feels as it did before. Its unnerving and exciting at the same time. However, as I try to figure it out, the strength I found has not waned. 🙂

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  4. I think it takes being so far away from everything that we know, from everything that supports us and gives us strength externally, to know how strong we are inside, on our own, without the props of the familiar. My ephiphany was in Ireland, on my own on a bike tour that came close to killing me. The courage and strength you discovered in London was always there. You’d not as yet had to reach that deeply inside to know it – but now that you do, no one can douse the flame that is fueled by your creativity and writing. You have the strength and courage to follow this writer’s path no matter what. Yay, you!!!!

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  5. Very interesting reading. We know we’re strong … our past has proven that. Still, to have it proven in such a way, can certainly be an epiphany. I’ve touched upon the idea of doing something similar just to see if I can do it … I know I can, but I want to feel the feeling, if you see what I mean..

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    • As a history teacher, I know exactly what you mean about our past. Humans are a tough bunch! 🙂

      I know exactly what you mean about needing to feel that feeling rather than just hearing about it. There’s nothing like the rush of understanding your own strength. 🙂

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  6. You are quite right that writing – living the life of a writer – takes great courage. To know, and have gotten reassurance, that you have that strength? To know, even more clearly now, that you are able to do whatever you put your mind to…and to do it with such grace and creativity and joy? Great things are ahead for you, I am sure of that!

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    • And for you, my friend. 🙂

      I think anything we do out of passion takes courage. For me, the experience applied to writing, but the same it true for anyone. You gotta jump in with both feet without looking at the landing. 🙂

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    • Yes, I did. 🙂 I look back on it now as completely nuts, but I’m glad I followed my instincts. My husband accompanied me for the first week and then I was on my own for the rest of the trip. I don’t know that I would have discovered all I had if there was the distraction of another person.

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  7. I love this post, C.B. I’ve just stepped back into my writing project so this topic couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been thinking that I need to brace myself for an intense two months as my project comes to an end.

    I think another key point about strength is that you have to be ready for it because you have no idea where it will take you. Epiphanies can be difficult to digest and you may find yourself on a path that isn’t overly enjoyable but is necessary to get you to where you want to be.

    Good luck with your projects this year! I know 2012 is full of achievements but more importantly, satisfaction and contentment because I have complete faith that you will follow through with your plans and achieve your dreams.

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    • Good luck on your final two months. 🙂

      Sometimes shaking things up and purposely putting yourself in situation that isn’t easy can lead to those life-changing epiphanies. You never know what your capable of unless you push yourself a little harder.

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  8. This makes complete sense to me. Determination and the strength to stand by your dreams is a hard fought battle. Now the trick for me is to get on with it. I feel as though I have been standing still for the past few weeks and I need to get back to moving forward.

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  9. How wonderful of you to have had that experience! It can be very nerve-wracking being in a completely foreign situation and does take a certain level of courage to overcome the fear and make the most of it. Growth only comes with experience, so I’m sure your time in London helped shape the person you are today. 🙂

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    • Every place I go changes me in a distinct way, but some places reach deeper than others. London, Prague, and China deeply effected me and continue to do so to this day. However, London remains the most significant. I keep going back (four times) and each trip always elicits a strong response. And I know its not finished with me yet. 🙂

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