I am sometimes reminded that life is like an old bridge. It has structure and form, a path and direction, and varying methods of support, aesthetics, damage, and repairs. In traveling, we may have obstacles in our path, whether overgrown trees or buckling road treads or even holes through which we can fall.
Rolf Gates said “…only by shining a spotlight on the obstacles in the path can we see the path itself” (2002, p. 148). John Cougar Mellencamp said, “Future generations, riding on the highways that we built, I hope they have a better understanding” (Check It Out, 1987).
There are times when rather than shine the spotlight on the obstacles in order to see the path (for there is a path around or over those obstacles as long as we do not trip nor drop through them), we just try to pretty them up instead.
It does not mean there is not still an obstacle that will glare at us if we shine the spotlight. Otherwise, we run the risk of our bridge (and our life) deteriorating around us whilst we are in the middle of traveling.
Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HAER TX, 209-ALBA. V, 1-18, 1-20, and 1-24.
This cable suspension bridge constructed 1896 was one of seven surviving pre-1940 bridges in Texas in 2012. In 1995, the Texas Senate passed a resolution directed to the TX Department of Transportation to restore and maintain the bridge. The 1996 study was apparently the end of the effort to preserve the bridge as it was still deteriorating in 2012.
Like our decision to shine the spotlight on obstacles in our lives, or not, we humans do have choices. The bridge itself has to depend on those following their builders “to have a better understanding.” When one considers how difficult it would have been to build this bridge that even in deteriorated condition is still standing 125 years later, perhaps it symbolizes perseverance and hopefulness. After all, we do not reach a point where we no longer have to shine the spotlight on the obstacles, no matter how long it might take to do something about them.