At least, that’s what I feel
'Now I lay me down in Dreamland' —
I know perfect’s not for real
I thought we might get closer —
But I’m ready to make a deal..."
–Rush, Second Nature
But unlike Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park in Utah before we had kids, where we climbed along sheer cliffs with nothing to hold onto except a chain threaded through large eye bolts embedded into the rocks under us, the family vacation hike to Honeymoon Bridge at the Three Sisters in Australia was much easier.
We didn’t make it all the way to Angel’s Landing; the terror of plummeting to the canyon floor was too much for us. We had to backtrack and head back down, even as families with young children scrambled past us, urging us to continue to the end.
The Mama (what I lovingly call my wife) wanted to see Honeymoon Bridge, although I had my reservations, unclear as to how high above the valley foliage we’d be. Probably too high. Yep. Way too high.
As we hiked to the bridge and went from a flat walking path to stairs with hand rails descending a few hundred feet to the bridge, my mind wandered to the night before, to how much easier it was to descend a different path.
We’d been out to dinner and the server who took our order forgot to put in the meals that the Mama and me wanted to eat. It happens. The server was apologetic and we still got our food, but I couldn’t let it go. Didn’t want to let it go. The beer and the travel tired didn’t help either. No excuse, though. I was a grump the rest of the night and that didn’t bode well for the Mama.
We’d already moved past it the next day, but it’s a recurring theme for me, gnashing my teeth like a Twitter troll as neutral passersby go about their business when I feel selfishly slighted. And not letting go no matter what.
Each step down to the bridge was actually easier than the last, as long as I didn’t look down the side of the cliff we descended. This time my mind wandered to the continuous acidic conversations I see online all the time, especially between supposed friends on Facebook (had just witnessed another one that morning). Tribal and polarized, these threads quickly dive into anger and frustration because of something one doesn’t like about the other (politically, socially, economically, etc.).
What’s worse, our greater discourse has empowered too many (more than I still want to believe) to stay in that dark and “grumpy” place of ignorant misunderstandings. An angry racist and misogynistic place where neighbor turns against neighbor. It’s one thing to have zero tolerance for hate, but the problem is that hate doesn’t discriminate and we seem to have zero tolerance for one another these days, which keeps us fractured and weak. And not letting go no matter what.
My attention refocused on the height at hand; we made it to Honeymoon Bridge. And although I had to take a picture near it, not on it, we still made it and the family crossed the 10-foot bridge to the carved out cliff of the first Sister of the Three. Nothing but air on either side of the bridge.
As I’ve made perfectly clear, I’m not a fan of heights. No frickin’ way. And yet I always try to push myself to get there, to go beyond my comfort zone and see something new, do something new, learn something new. To make the arduous journey upward and to get another perspective about this still amazing world we live. To rise above our baser instincts, our genetic default, for our better angels' compromise.
So many proverbial bridges to build and share with one another, but not always to cross.