I stood there thinking. Thinking about the things that go through our heads when we are faced with the scary proposition of traveling over a bridge that just doesn’t look or feel safe. Will it support my weight? Are the boards sturdy? How far down is the river if I fall? There has got to be another way around. Do I have to do this? If it weren’t so crucial, so important, unavoidable that I cross this bridge then none of these questions would matter at all. Unfortunately, this is the path, the only path to my new life, because I cannot continue to travel the old one as it leads directly to failure, incarceration, frustration and maybe even death. Somehow, I must find the courage to take these few steps or else I am done.
Fortunately, I am not alone. I hear the voices of those invested in my success coaxing me, cheering me, ushering me forward. My heart beats so hard that I cannot imagine how it is remaining within my chest. The first step, then one more as thoughts of my family’s smiling faces ran cross my mind. I know full well that once I started on the path from here to there, that there will be no turning back. Now out there on the bridge, I find strength, and now can’t even imagine failure. I find myself chuckling as I remember my counselor and mentor laughing when we talked about making the trip, as I bravely extolled “that bridge, anybody scared of crossing that bridge is a weak-minded, fool”. How quickly I was transformed from false bravado to fear, laughing at myself as I realized I was the fool.
This bridge belongs to me. It is the pathway to what comes next, to family, to work, respect and hope. The hope that the past will remain where it is, no longer having any control over my actions, thoughts or dreams. The hope that what my counselors and friends have said is true, that I can start over, choose to have a different life, a life with good things, people and places. I own this bridge and as my feet hit the first few inches on the other side, I sigh, laugh and cry almost simultaneously. I have reached the other side, a new road lays before me, frightening, but real. I am so grateful that you were there to help me cross, it shall never be forgotten.