Let me set the scene.....I live in a relatively new suburb in Tauranga called The Lakes. There are many beautiful walks in the area and one of them includes a walk across this bridge. The bridge is part of the new development and I am guessing that it would be about 5 years old maybe.
I often walk over this bridge and the ideas below are lessons that have accumulated over many walks. As I sat a while on the bridge yesterday, to enjoy the cool breeze that blows down the lake I started to think more about the lessons I have learnt from this bridge over time. This year my inquiry question is 'What does it mean to see me?' Maybe this is the start of my journey into a very reflective year.
So here are the 9 lessons from the bridge:
1.We all live the same number of years, but we all age differently. Aging is individual and maybe we have a choice in that. Remember this bridge was built all at the same time, but some of the pieces have had to be replaced already. So aging is not about how many years we have been alive it is an individual experience.
2. The replaced, new pieces stand out, they are not wrinkly and weathered. The new pieces do not hold the same beauty that comes with a life lived well. There is a beauty in age that sometimes we forget to see and instead try to stay forever looking young.
3. The replaced pieces eventually blend into the surrounding - thinking of them as becoming part of the bridge. Do we see young people, really see young people or do we think of what they will be not who they are in this moment, recognising their strengths, their abilities, what they have to offer just as they are, not as what they are becoming.
4. When one part of the bridge is replaced another takes its place. For safety purposes the bridge needs to be repaired and the broken or damaged pieces need to be replaced. Each replacement piece needs to be carefully considered - length, depth, wood etc. What if we allowed the gap to remain for a little bit, examine the gap, feel comfortable with the gap and then fill the gap. Gaps created through change in circumstances or grief, can be responded to with pause allowing time to think about what will fill that void, if anything. In life I wonder if gaps need to be filled, are they opportunities for new adventures. I have known grief in my life - the lose of parents and grief of divorce - I think the pause, the gap is well worth sitting with for a time.
5. The parts of the bridge come to an end in no particular order. A little like life, we are not all the same at different ages, we cannot all be ready for the same experiences at the same age. For example, in education why would we think that all 3 year olds for instance would be exactly the same. Although the bridge is one structure its individual parts need individual attention. Education maybe one structure but it has individual people inside it with individual ways of being.
6. The beauty of the bridge is its rustic charm - it's not perfect, it's well used and it takes you somewhere. Life is not perfect, but filled with rich experiences and used well it will take you somewhere.
7. When we see the bridge we see it in its entirety. We don't fixate on the young palings or the old, we know that each part is valuable - without one part the whole is weakened. This is about community. There is richness to diversity of ages being in community - whether it is a local suburb, ECE setting or school.
8. The young and the old pieces of the bridge rely on each other. Everyone has equal value and deserving the of same respect.
9. As the young replace the old, the remaining old pieces still support the bridge. Old wisdom and strength support the young. Titiro whakamuri her ārahi i ngā uaratanga kei te kimihia. Look to the past for guidance and seek out what is needed.
Well there it is 9 lessons about aspects of life from a bridge. They may overlap but that is life, a weaving together of relationships, experiences, perspectives and opportunities.