The View from a Drawbridge

The random musings of a bridgetender with entirely too much time on her hands.

Category: Uncategorized

Where are YOU located?

I just got through watching “The Tenant”, a movie by Roman Polanski from the 70’s. It was quite bizarre, but then I like the bizarre. In it, the main character, played by Polanski himself, says something that really got me thinking.

I’m paraphrasing here, but he says something like, “Say you chopped off your arm and survived. You would say ‘me and my arm.’ If you chopped off your leg, you would say, ‘me and my leg.’ But what would you say if you chopped off your head? Would you say, ‘me and my head,’ or would you say, ‘me and my body’?”

And mind you, he has this conversation before he goes completely ‘round the bend, so you can imagine what state he’s in by the time he goes totally bonkers.

Anyway, it made me realize that on some level, I’ve always thought of myself as residing in that place just behind my eyes. Am I alone in this? I don’t think they say “The eyes are the window to the soul” for nothing.

I kind of feel as though my body is the vehicle that “I” ride around in. That’s probably why I’m so irritated when some part of my body gets hurt. It’s darned inconvenient, and it almost seems unfair that “I” have to experience the pain. On the other hand, when my body experiences pleasure, yeah, I’m willing to own that, for sure.

But if my body isn’t me, than what is me? My thoughts? My eyesight?

Ugh, thinking this deeply makes my head hurt. My head. The head that belongs to me. The me that is…God knows where.


Those Moments

That moment when you realize that you’re a fundamentally decent person: It’s a lovely spring day and you’re having a picnic in the park with your boyfriend and your two dogs. Along comes a crack addict with her mortified 4 year old in tow, and from 50 yards away she starts screaming at you that you better not sic your dogs on her or she is going to f*** you up. You are stunned that anyone would even come up with that concept with regard to you. It is so foreign as to make you question if you’re awake.

That moment when you comprehend that maybe the next generation will have it under control after all. It’s the end of a very long, grueling two weeks of fundraisers and events to raise money for the earthquake victims in Haiti, and you look over at the exhausted 20 year old girl of Haitian descent whom you’ve been working with. She came up with the idea and coordinated everything despite her very real anxieties about the relatives she has lost as well as the relatives who have not yet gotten in touch with her. You realize you couldn’t have done that at 20. No way.

That moment when it dawns on you that you’re not in a safe place. You’re in Turkey. You don’t speak the language and the only person in sight is a very big, evil carpet tout who is screaming at you because you refuse to come to his shop and buy one of his products. (Avoid Diana Carpets in Selçuk, Turkey!) He towers above you, pushes you against your car, rips your souvenirs out of your hand and refuses to give them back, and you have to leap into your vehicle and race down the road. You spend the rest of the night shaking in your hostel, and all your wonderful Turkish experiences in the past two weeks seem to pale in comparison.

That moment when you discover you’re not at the top of the food chain after all. You exit the convenience store, slurpee in hand, and while passing by the open window of a van in order to get to your car, an enraged pit bull lunges out of said window, missing your face by mere millimeters. You feel his hot, stinky breath against your eyelashes. The dog’s owner is unrepentant, so in that same moment you realize that you’re also not at the bottom of the food chain, either.

That moment when you know we’re all in this together. You are the only one present to witness the very traumatic experience of a total stranger and you wrap your arms around her and just let her cry.

That moment when you grasp that you’ve become your mother. You hear yourself telling your teen-aged niece, “Life isn’t fair.”

That moment when you understand that fame is sick, twisted, and undesirable. You come upon a highly sexual photograph of 13 year old Willow Smith, and are shocked that even her father, Will Smith, who you’d think would have some power in that realm, is in fact powerless to prevent his daughter from passing through the sexuality meat grinder that is the music industry.

That moment when you can no longer deny that your boss is a total scumbag. You get a hysterical phone call from a coworker. The next phone call, which is to your boss, goes like this: “I don’t care where you are or what you are doing. Get your putrid a** over to the courthouse and take care of that parking ticket you swore you took care of MONTHS ago so that Linda can have the boot taken off her car, or so help me God…”

That moment when it dawns on you that you’re better off alone. The man you have lived with for 16 years admits to you that even though his boss has stolen 3,500 dollars from you, he’s going to continue to work for him.

That moment when you’re taught there are forces beyond your control. You make the mistake of turning your back on the ocean, and the next thing you know you are being tossed around as if you are in the world’s cruelest washing machine, and you’re wondering if you’ll ever breathe again. Then suddenly you find yourself spread eagled on the sand, coughing up sea water and thanking God you’re still alive.

That moment when you discover that you took a wrong turn in life. You are the undeserving butt of someone’s narcissistic rage for the millionth time, and when you react to that, you’re told that you’re just being hypersensitive.

That moment when you really know your sister loves you. You receive a card from her that says, “I’m glad you aren’t someone else,” and it makes you cry.

That moment when you can no longer ignore the fact that you’re sometimes just as superficial as the next person. At the swimming pool, you run into the guy you’ve had a crush on for your entire college sophomore year, and discover that he has a thick, bushy mat of back hair from his neck to his waist, and suddenly the thrill is gone.

That moment when your faith in humanity is restored. You watch an entire interstate part like the red sea in order to let an ambulance get through a traffic jam on a bridge.

That moment when you fall in love with nature all over again. You stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon and you find you cannot move. And you realize you wouldn’t have it any other way.


Leaps of Faith

Every once in a while you find yourself standing on a precipice staring down into a deep abyss of change. You may have a strong idea as to whether this change will ultimately be good or bad for you, but you can’t be sure, and that’s what’s terrifying about it. You may very well stand on that crumbling ledge for a long time. Some people are there for a lifetime. Agonizing. Second guessing themselves.

There are options. Leaping into that abyss isn’t always the best idea. Sometimes it’s better to back away from that precipice of change entirely, and focus instead on making the best of what you already have.

On the other hand, it may be that the best thing to do is to cross your arms, close your eyes, throw your head back and let yourself fall. It might kill you, or you might land in the most amazing place you’ve ever been. The whole experience might just be a hard lesson you need to learn on the way to the next change, or it might bring you joy that you never thought you’d encounter. Either way it’s the next step. It’s progress. It’s life.

So, step back and reevaluate or take that leap of faith? No one can make that decision for you. But either way, the answer is within you. On some level you already know that.

Just don’t stay on that ledge doing nothing. That’s a form of living death. That’s hell on earth. I don’t know how the abyss became a metaphor for hell. The abyss is just the unknown. Hell is the precipice. Hell is the hesitation. Do not linger there for long.


Congratulations, You’re Alive!

Do you ever think about the miracle of your existence? It’s incredible, really. The odds of you… you actually being here to read this blog are greater than being struck by lightning.

Think of the one hundred generations that had to to procreate before you were even born. They had to survive plagues and wars and pestilence and catastrophe and childbirth. They had to be smart enough not to fatally injure themselves, and mentally healthy enough not to end it all. They had to meet just the right person to produce just the right child that would then meet just the right person… and so on. If even just one of those guys had spent just 5 extra minutes in the bushes or the outhouse or the bathroom on the day he was destined to meet his life partner, he may have met someone else and this current version of you wouldn’t exist.

And even before that, the planet had to develop in just the right way to sustain life. The primordial ooze had to be just oozy enough. The earth had to be the correct distance from the sun. It had to have water and develop plants and animals. Our ancestors had to be great swimmers, then great crawlers, then great climbers, then great runners. The dinosaurs had to be wiped out. The continents had to divide. Climate had to be just right in order for us to survive.

No wonder we have such high opinions of ourselves! What a miracle it is to be alive! What a precious gift!

Let’s try really hard not to screw it up for the generations to come, shall we?


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