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Friday, July 30, 2010

The Bridge

A friend shared this with me today on facebook - someone else had shared it with her - I can't help but post it here - I feel this message will resonate with many! 

The Bridge - Edwin Friedman, a Family Systems Therapist.

This story has a great message for anyone being held back by another...

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

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

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

Hurrying along he came upon a bridge 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 drew closer, it seemed as thought the other were coming to greet him. He could see clearly, however, that he did not know this person who was dressed similarly except for something tied around his waist.

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

Just as he was noticing this fact, the other began to uncurl the rope, and as they were coming close, the other said, “Pardon me, would you be so kind as to hold the end a moment?”
Surprised by this request, which was made so politely, he agreed without a thought, reached out, and took it.

“Thank you,” said the other, then added, “two hands now, and remember, hold tight.” At that point the other jumped off the bridge.

Within second the free-falling body hurtled the distance of the rope’s length and from the bridge he instantly felt the pull. Instinctively, he held tight. The weight almost dragged him off the bridge. He managed to brace himself against the edge, however, and after having caught his breath, looked down at the other dangling distantly, close to oblivion.

“What are you trying to do?” he yelled.
“Just hold tight,” said the other.

“This is ridiculous,” he thought, and began trying to haul the other in. He could not get the leverage however. It was as though the weight 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?: he called out.

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

“But I cannot pull you up,” he cried.

“I am your responsibility,” said the other.

“Well, I did not ask for it,” he said.

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

He began to look around for help. But there was no one. How long would he have to wait? Why did this happen to befall him now? “Just as I was on the verge of true success.” He examined the 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 I can go and find someone to help me help you.”

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

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

“Why did you do this?” he repeated.

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

Some time went by, but still no one came. The critical moment of decision was drawing near. To 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. But what a terrible choice to have to make.

A new thought occurred to him. While he could not pull this other up by his own efforts alone, if the other would shorten the rope from his end by curling it around his waist again, together they could do it. Actually, the other could do it by himself, as 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.

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

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

The point of decision had arrived. What should he do? What an impossible decision to have to make. “My life or this other’s?” And then a new idea. A really new idea. So new, in fact, it almost bordered on revelation, so foreign was it to his traditional way of thinking.

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

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

“I mean, simply, it’s up to you. You decide how this ends. I will become the counter-weight. You do the pulling and bring yourself up. I will even tug a little from here.” He began unwinding the rope from around his 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.”

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

“I accept your choice.” He said, at last, and freed his hands."



  1. Wow, what a story! I've never heard this one before - much to think about here and something to always keep in mind. Kinda ties into your next chat a bit, too!

  2. Your right it sure does tie into it! : )


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