Horizon/ grey gum/ wombat/ mossy rock/ sandy shore/ echo chamber/ ampitheatre/ canopy/ bull in field / dirt track/ mud under foot/ squelchy boot/ early morning/ dark dinner/ windy road/ front gate/ neighbour’s fence/ signpost/ bitumen road/ dotted line/ speed limit/ traffic/ roadhouse/ roadtrain/ cow on truck/ advertisement/ portaloo/ paid lunch/ smooth ride/ counting down/ highway patrol/ airport/ sky road/ headlight/ lights ahead/ fast food suburb/ highway’s end/ defined block/ street map/ sprawling grid/ adjoining house /red light/ neon/ shop front/ immediacy/ mass/ choice/ train/ tram/ bike/ cab/ car/ horn honking at the out-of-towner (“I’m sorry but I’ve been in paradise for a week and it’s taking me a little while to adjust back to this reality we have built”)/ last turn/ crowded street/ cement carpark/ empty house/ home.
There is a strange sensation that comes about with something like this, a ‘creative development’.
I feel like it should be called an ‘emotional development’, or I should tell people I’m embarking on a week of ‘emotional creativity’!
I find myself connecting with a bull in the field, or being moved by a joey playing with her mother, or the yellow leaf that sticks to the top of my shoe with the autumn dew. Eager to connect, I hone my listening skills and get lost in the stories, skills and conversations of the people around me, and yet I notice I am also retreating further and further into myself; a communal hibernation. Reaching out and reaching in.
My task was to brush up on bridges. I learnt a thing or two about dead loads and forces, arches and suspension and the pros and cons of iron v steel.
But while I can appreciate architecture for its beauty, I am unwilling to invest in learning about it as a science, or mathematical equation, or to study the specific way you construct these magic stepping stones. For me, it is not its engineering that is of most interest, but the energy it generates when it is in place. What is a bridge? Just an overpass? What is it about bridges that have captured people’s imaginations and defined cities throughout the ages? Such pride comes from a bridge! They are an example of functionality and art combining to create a piece of infrastructure that can be more than just a road over water, but can enhance the environment in which it is transgressing. Creativity meeting Practicality. Aesthetic meeting Efficiency. A bridge is already a bridge.
The always reliable Dictionary.com page says that a bridge is two things :
1. a structure spanning and providing passage over a river, chasm, road, or the like.
2. a connecting, transitional, or intermediate route or phase between two adjacent elements, activities, conditions, or the like:
A structure and a route. Stability and journey. You cross a bridge, you bridge the gap. It represents division and also unity. I live on the other side of the bridge to you/ I will meet you on the bridge.
Its mystique comes in its impossibility. How is it possible to build it, cross it, reach the other side without it falling apart?
The structure itself symbolises all these things for us too. How can I do the things I want to, get to the place I want to be; what if I fall in a heap along the way?
Through reading books on bridges I learned one thing tonight: it is a slow process, this bridge building. It takes time and effort to get to the other side. Whether it be by wood or cement or stone, there are factors that come into play – external and internal – that will define the kind of bridge you build, the kind of life you make. It unfolds stone by stone, plank by plank, step by step.
I think it would be rad if we gave people the chance to take the time they need to start building and crossing their own bridge, one dance move at a time.