I have a friend whom I dearly love and yet hate to call on the phone. Most of us will begin a phone conversation with “So, how are you?” With this friend, that is the wrong question to ask. She will, predictably, recount how unhappy she is and go on about what bad choices she has made in her life. It tears my heart out to have this conversation because her past choices seem to prevent her from being present to her life today; instead, she still views herself as who she was in past, still held hostage by her foolish choices.
Bridges: We have all seen them. They take us from one side to the other, from where we are to where we will be. They are the physical incarnation of the moment in between before and after. Throughout our lives we choose and cross bridges, winding up on the other side of who we were.
The bridges we embrace to help us get from “then” to “now” leave us deposited somewhere, depending upon the bridge we chose. If I choose to cross the Brooklyn Bridge I should not be surprised to find that I have wound up in Brooklyn. What we choose takes us somewhere so why are we surprised to have arrived in unhappiness when we chose the bridges of drugs, or irresponsible sex, or impulsive purchases that later mystify us?
There is another way to look at the bridges in our lives: They not only took us from who were to who we are, but can also take us from who we are to who we will be. In other words, there are still bridges to cross which will take us somewhere further. If we have regretted having chosen certain bridges in the past, let that regret cause us to exercise a bit more caution when we choose the next bridge. Better bridges to choose might be stable relationships, learning to live within a budget, responsible sexual relationships.
Like my friend, we can spend far too much time, energy and emotion in bemoaning our past choices. Instead of that, let us use those past choices as a guide for the next bridge: Do I really want to be where it will leave me?