I have a deep fear of bridges. More accurately, I’m scared of bridges that stand looming over large pools of water or busy highways. And in order to not extend my anxiety to the driver while I noisily breathe in and out, I request they drive as close to the middle barrier as possible (away from the ledge) and keep my eyes focused forward. Purely focusing on the end of the bridge.
In San Diego, I encountered the Coronado Bridge. Beautifully painted blue, the bridge complements the vast waters below. However, the bridge is curved. Depending where you are looking, it feels impossible to see the end and beginning at the same time. Moreover, when driving on the bridge, the end feels very far away. The curvature gets all the attention. No looking behind. No longer looking for indications that the end of the road is almost near. Solely breathing in and out, knowing you are stuck on the curvy part. But a few breaths later, to my surprise, the end of the Coronado Bridge came sooner than I would have anticipated.
Those curvy parts of life always seem bigger in the moment. The arguments, the financial strains, the long nights wondering when our children will finally sleep through the night. (Do they ever?) The school applications, woes of dating, struggling to find one’s personal and professional identity. So many curvy roads. I remember many times, as a child thinking, “If only I knew how my life would end up…then I can relax.” But now I look back at that child and reassure her, “Stop looking for the end of the bridge. The curves are the adventures. The smiles, the tears, the memories.”
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov teaches, “The entire world is a very narrow bridge and the most important thing is to not be afraid.” I humbly add: the world is filled with curvy journeys. Breathe it all in. Don’t look for the end. Because you just might miss the very best part.
Rabbi Nicole Guzik is a rabbi at Sinai Temple. She can be reached at her Facebook page at Rabbi Nicole Guzik or on Instagram @rabbiguzik. For more writings, visit Rabbi Guzik’s blog section from Sinai Temple’s website.