I have questions.
First, some thoughts to set up for the questions.
THE PAST: Memory, the north bank of the Salt River at Tempe Town Lake
THE PRESENT: Awareness, the new bike-pedestrian bridge across Tempe Town Lake
THE FUTURE: Imagination, the south bank of the Salt River near the Center for the Arts
|Tempe Town Lake Bridge opened this week with a sunrise ceremony on Tuesday|
The present moment is a bridge from the past to the future. Our stream of awareness flows across the bridge as our various imagined futures coalesce into the present moment, cross the bridge of awareness, and form into memory. As we cross the bridge, we carry as freight our rich collections of memories to refer back to, looking back over our shoulder at the riverbank we're leaving behind:
- to guide and enrich our crossings
- to form and (re)create who we are as we cross
- to enhance our understanding and present awareness
- to affect which of the possible futures we choose to strive toward
- to help us handle the possible futures we have no control over
- Walt Whitman: "I project myself a moment to tell you—also I return."
|Check out those graceful shadows of the crossed-arches...hey, wait a minute!|
Some methods of crossing a bridge, walking and biking primarily, will be at a pace and exposed to the environment such that the crossing is an experience in itself, not merely a transition to be gotten through as quickly and trivially as possible.
Some bridges will be conducive to a mindful crossing: Soleri Bridge in Scottsdale, the new Tempe Town Lake Bridge, Vancouver's Capilano suspension bridge, etc.
Some bridges are narrow high-speed nightmares you just want to drive across as quickly as possible to get to the other side and put them behind you: the 1/9 Pulaski Skyway bridge for example.
|The arch shadows are actually pseudo-shadows, artifice, art|
The basic questions:
How fast, how quickly do you cross?
Do you pause in the middle to reflect on the crossing?
Do you consider the bridge itself as you cross? Its design, its purpose, the possible intentions of its designers? Do you consider the skill of its makers, the grace of its design, the art, the engineering, its messages?
Does the bridge appear graceful to you? Does it have its own sort of beauty? Can you see its bones? Does it bear its burdens, its deadweight, its wind loads, its traffic, its stresses and strains, with ease and power? Does it sing in the wind? Can you feel it move? Does it have expansion joints to manage thermal changes?
|Can you walk your dog on it? Do you take time to look into your child's eyes?|
New bridges are built against the backdrop of the old bridges and other methods of crossing previously used. Sometimes the old bridges are left in place. Sometimes they are still used, other times they are closed yet remain, often rusted hulking shadows across the water. The old ferry piers and terminals, are they still there? Other times the old routes are erased, the spans blown up dropped into the channel and cut up into scrap, the old piers and ferry crossings destroyed and turned into parks, venues, fast food stands, waterfront. There should be a question here: your current bridge, how did it deal with the past crossing methods? At this point, it would be edifying to go and read Walt Whitman, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry". Please: http://www.bartleby.com/142/86.html
|Show me your forces, allow me to calculate your moments and thrusts|
Did not Uncle Walt capture the exact sense I am wondering about herein?
The impalpable sustenance of me from all things, at all hours of the day;
The simple, compact, well-join’d scheme—myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated, yet part of the scheme:
The similitudes of the past, and those of the future...
|I gaze back and across at older crossings, defunct ferries, and new light rail bridges that light up at night|
|Sun water dappled, in shade, gazing at wetlands and great egrets in the shallows and reeds|
Once across, do you turn around right away and go back, which can only be done with bridges and not with past-present-future, or do you dwell a while on the far bank with curiosity and openness, to discover what's over there?
In conclusion the final questioning: we are not molluscs, dwelling in an ever-present moment isolated from past and future one to the next unconnected merely being, nor are we machines since we have sensation, awareness, emotion, hope, dreams, intent, will, integrated sense of self. Sometimes we may be stressballs dwelling on worries and spinning on fears but we cross that bridge; sometimes we may be negative narrators telling ourselves stories of woe and wear and tear and weakness and age but we cross that bridge; and sometimes we are flowing beings of light and love moving in smooth and rich transition from past through the present into the future, and we cross that bridge, too. Freighted with memory. Buoyed by imagination. We look across, and we ask: where next?