Thursday, August 04, 2016

A bridge can be breathtaking


This is the boardwalk at Greenwich in PEI's National Park. It allows people to cross a fragile ecosystem and a pond to reach a beach that is absolutely breathtaking (I'll put a picture at the end of this post, so you can get your own glimpse of it).

The boardwalk reminded me this week that the work it takes to build a bridge is not compromise and it's not a necessary evil. It's a necessary beauty, an effort to connect resources and build something that is both useful and beautiful. This is how I like to see communication.

Communication of all kinds requires that we build bridges: we must build them with the craftsmanship that knows what will be stable and what will last in different environments. The work is often painstaking and troublesome and it feels like the slow way to a result. And yet, when it succeeds, communication builds connections that are not only strong and stable: they are beautiful in their own right.

I can guarantee that you will need to build a bridge this week to get somewhere you want to go. And I can guarantee that some of the ground you will need to cross will be fragile or unstable or just plain mucky. It might feel like the people you need to communicate with are deliberately making your path slippery or steep. It might feel like there should be an easier way to go it alone.

When you feel that, stop and remember a bridge or a boardwalk that you have seen or crossed and believe to be beautiful or, at least, well-built. Take a moment to study it in your mind, noticing the supports, the materials, and the shape of the bridge. Imagine standing in the middle, and looking to either end. If it's a bridge over water, take a look over the edge with all the curiosity and interest of a small child. 

This bridge represents communication. Your job is not to struggle through or to dump information or to fight it out. Your job is to build something as sturdy and useful and elegant as my boardwalk, made out of your attention to where you are, where you need to land, and what you need to cross in the middle.

Here's the beach I found at the end of the boardwalk. I am very grateful to the craftsmen who made it possible for me to discover it.


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