Are you a fan of bridges or do they scare you a bit?
I’ve driven and walked over lots of bridges and most are okay. But then there are a few that are truly nerve-wracking because they are so high or seem to sway with the wind or the end seems to disappear before it reaches the other side, leaving you wondering if you’ll ever set foot on firm ground again.
I know a few people who will drive out of their way to avoid going over certain bridges. I recently discovered that there is a recognized phobia for this condition, referred to as gephyrophobia, and that it often produces panic attacks. I feel badly for those afflicted with this condition and know of many bridges that would produce these effects.
This morning I was thinking about bridges of a different sort. The ones it would be wonderful to build between people.
We have such strong opinions and reactions regarding how we view the world, and they can create large chasms between us. I wondered to myself, what causes all of these and easily came up with an extensive list. No doubt you could add to it with ideas of your own.
Political ideologies, religious dogmas, social mores, economic stratification, injustices, wars, philosophical differences. And, branching off each of these are even more opinions and hardened ideas that make it very challenging.
So, how are we to bridge the gaps?
I suppose it is up to each of us to decide what approach might work for us. I’m wondering, do you have a proven method, or would you like a suggestion?
If you have something that works for you, I hope you share it with others, because it often feels that our human race could benefit from a lot of bridging.
If you’re open to an idea, I have one to share.
The idea begins by visualizing a bridge in your mind. There are two ends, and each has a firm foundation, which suggests something to me. It feels as though both ends are necessary and important. But there is a feeling of them standing alone and apart, so that without the lanes that crossed between them, they cannot support each other, and they are less because of this.
The visualization shifts.
One side of the bridge is now connected to my head, where all thoughts about the world reside. It is powerful and capable of great things, but it falls short of being complete.
On the other side is my heart where feelings exist. It is a loving, caring place, but it too is incomplete.
The two sides need each other to be wholly effective. And they also need a way to communicate. They need the lanes in between them, and they need to partner together, otherwise nothing significant can be accomplished.
And they need to find common ground and a reason to work toward mutually beneficial outcomes.
I often find that I learn best through examples, so here’s one that came to my mind.
While driving in a city, I’ll often notice a person standing by the side of the road holding a sign, asking for money. My head recognizes that there are many opinions regarding those who do this. Some folks feel they should get a job like everyone else. Others resist offering them money because they feel they’ll use it for liquor or drugs or something else objectionable. And while folks may be sensitive to their plight, they don’t want to encourage them to continue and feel there must be a better way.
On the other side of my bridge, my heart fills with love, sympathy, and empathy for them. It hopes that they will receive whatever they truly need, whether it’s money, a smile, or a word of encouragement.
But without a bridge between my head and my heart no action will ever occur. For me, that’s where compassion comes in. It’s when the love in my heart finds direction through an outpouring of compassion. It overflows into my mind and creates a desire to offer aid, support, and kindness.
Compassion builds bridges. Simple acts of encouragement, caring and sharing from the abundance we each have within us. Compassion builds lanes between the two foundations, making the entire bridge come to life.