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The Bridge

Old 04-26-2015, 05:36 AM
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The Bridge

I saw this in the Friends and Family section. It is written for people who are dealing with a partner or family member who is addicted. I thought it would also fit here. The "other" in the story could also be viewed as addiction itself. It is long, but a good read.


“The Bridge”
from Generation to Generation
by Edwin Friedman

There was a man who had given much thought to what he wanted from his life. He had experienced many moods and trials. He had experimented with many different ways of living and had had his share of both success and failure. At last, he began to see clearly where he wanted to go.

Diligently he searched for the right opportunity. Sometimes he came close, only to be pushed away. Often he applied his strength and imagination, only to find a path hopelessly blocked. And then it came at last. But the opportunity would not wait; it would be available for only a short time. If it were seen that he was not committed, the opportunity might not come again.

Eager to arrive, he started on his journey. With each step, he wanted to move faster; with each thought of his goal, his heart beat more quickly; with each vision of what lay ahead, he found renewed vigor. Strength that had left him since his early youth, returned, and desires, all kinds of desires, reawakened from their long-dormant state.

Hurrying along, he came upon a bridge that crossed through the middle of a town. It had been built high above a river in order to protect it from the floods of spring.

He started across. Then he noticed someone coming from the opposite direction. As they moved closer, it seemed as though the other were coming to greet him. The other was dressed very similarly to him, except he had something tied around his waist.

When they were within hailing distance, he could see that what the other had around his waist was a rope. It was wrapped around him many times and probably, if extended, would reach a length of at least 30 feet.

The other began to uncurl the rope, and, just as they were coming close, the stranger said: “Pardon me. Would you be so kind as to hold the end a moment?”

Surprised by this politely phrased but curious request, the man, without a single thought, reached out, and took the end of the rope.

“Thank you,” said the other, who then added, “two hands now, and remember, hold tight!” Whereupon, the other jumped off the bridge.

Quickly, the free-falling body hurtled the distance of the rope’s length, and, from the bridge, the man abruptly felt the pull. Instinctively, he held tight, though he was almost dragged over the side himself. He managed to brace himself against the edge, however, and after having caught his breath, looked down at the other, dangling, close to oblivion.

“What are you trying to do?” he yelled.

“Just hold tight,” said the other.

“This is ridiculous,” the man thought and began trying to haul the other in. He could not get enough leverage. It was as though the weight of the other person and the length of the rope had been carefully calculated in advance, so that together they created a counter-weight just beyond his strength to bring the other back to safety.

“Why did you do this?” the man called out.

“Remember,” said the other, “if you let go, I will be lost.”

“But I cannot pull you up,” the man cried.

“I am your responsibility,” the other said.

“Well, I did not ask for it,’ the man replied.

“If you let go, them I am lost,” repeated the other.

The man began to look around for help. But there was no one. How long would he have to wait? Why did this have to happen to him now, just as he was on the verge of true success? He examined the other side, searching for a place to tie the rope….some protrusion, perhaps, or maybe a hole in the boards. But the railing was unusually uniform in shape; there were no spaces between the boards. There was no way to get rid of this new-found burden, even temporarily.

“What do you want?” he asked the other hanging below.

“Just your help,” the other answered.

“How can I help? I cannot pull you in, and there is no place to tie the rope, so that I can go and find someone to help you.”

“I know that. Just hang on; that will be enough. Tie the rope around your waist; it will be easier.”

Fearing his arms would not hold out much longer, he tied the rope around his waist.

“Why did you do this?” he asked again. “Don’t you see what you have done? What possible purpose could you have had in mind?”

“Just remember,” said the other, “my life is in your hands.”

What should he do? “If I let him go, all my life I will know that I let this other die. If I stay, I risk losing my momentum toward my own long-sought-after salvation. Either way this will haunt me forever” With ironic humor, he thought to himself suddenly to jump off the bridge while still holding on: “That would teach this fool!” he thought. But he wanted to live and to live fully. “What a choice I have to make; how shall I ever decide?”

Time went by and still no one came. The man’s own strength was waning. The critical moment of decision was drawing near. To save himself and show his commitment to his own goals, he would have to continue on his journey now. It was already almost too late to arrive in time. What a terrible choice to have to make.

A new thought occurred to him. While he could not pull the other up by himself, if the other would shorten the rope from his end by curling it around his waist again and again, together they could do it. Actually, the other could do it by himself, so long as he, standing on the bridge, kept it still and steady.

“Now listen,” he shouted down. “I think I know how to save you.” And he explained his plan.

But the other wasn’t interested.

“What do you mean you won’t help? I told you I cannot pull you up myself, and I can’t hang on much longer either.”

“You must try,” shouted the other back in tears. “If you fail, I die.”

The point if decision had arrived. What should he do? “My life or this other’s?” And then a new idea. A revelation. So new, in fact, it seemed heretical, so alien was it to his traditional way of thinking.

“I want to listen very carefully,” he said to the other, “for I mean what I am about to say: I will not accept the responsibility for your choice or for your life, only for my own; the position of choice for your own life, I hereby give back to you.”

“What do you mean,” the other asked, afraid.

“I mean simply, it’s up to you. You decide which way this ends. I will provide the counterweight. You do the pulling and bring yourself up. I will even tug a little from here.” He began unwinding the rope from his own waist. And braced himself anew against the side.

“You cannot mean what you say,” the other shrieked. “You would not be so selfish. I am your responsibility. What could be so important that you would let someone die? Do not do this to me!”

The man waited a moment. There was no change in the tension of the rope.

“I accept your choice,” he said, at last, and freed his own hands.


The Beginning
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Old 04-26-2015, 05:49 AM
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Wow. That's really powerful. Thank you for sharing :-)
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Old 04-26-2015, 09:18 AM
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Great post Art!!
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Old 04-26-2015, 09:23 AM
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Its awesome
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