Photography ©Levi Govoni | The Pinhole Project |

Which Bridge

“The hardest thing in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which to burn.” -David Russell

I am the poster child for false starts. A master of misdirection. Traversing, building and, yes, often burning bridges as I go. It is not uncommon to find myself in unfamiliar territory wondering, “What the hell am I doing here?” Sometimes I continue to move forward, veering directions like an old meandering river cutting and forming the landscape in its wake. Other times, I meet an unwelcome obstacle and run in retreat back over the same path I so diligently committed to. A scared soldier in the face of battle. A coward of sorts, unsure after climbing a few rungs, that his ladder was, indeed, ever up against the right wall to begin with. How many of us have come across this metaphorical struggle in our lives? In what direction should we go, and do we look back once we have taken the first step? When I peer over my shoulder, it often feels like I have led a hundred different lives. Gone in a million different directions. Oh, the bridges I have crossed and burned; in relationships, careers, academics, even, on some occasions, hobbies and interests. Although, the latter being much easier “structures” to rebuild. The Native Americans have a saying, “When you reach a great chasm in your life, jump. It isn’t as far as you think.” Upon hearing such sage advice, I often wonder if maybe, just maybe, life would be simpler, therefore, if we eliminated bridges all together? After all, if we had to jump great chasms rather than merely stroll over countless bridges to go in the direction of our choosing, how would this affect our choices in life? Would such a massive mental paradigm shift be a help or a hindrance? In the end, would we be more apt to sit at the edge of the status quo in fear of a potential plummet should we attempt to leap? It is after all, a long way to the bottom of a chasm. Or, would these great abysses we attempted to leap reflect the strength of our choices in a more positive, accurate manner; a Litmus Test in determining what we really want in life as opposed to what we think we do. A way of weeding out the whims of an increasingly Attention Deficit Disordered society. It takes guts to leap a chasm, particularly the older one gets. It takes strength and commitment, but our confidence in direction would certainly be enhanced with each successfully attempt. “Hell yeah, I jumped that chasm! In your face, abyss!!” Turning back would not even be an option. We would be on the other side of the great divide moving forward with the determined commitment of someone who lept and lived. The flip side to this bravado philosophy, however, would culminate in utter failure. If the chasm was not cleared, the result would be a pulverized mass of despair. A psyche battered and alone in the dark wondering how the hell to climb back up again. Native Americans, while wise and brave, have to admit, bridges, therefore, can be kind of handy in a pinch. I guess what it all comes down to, whether jumping over the abyss like a modern day Crazy Horse or walking across it on a bridge like the rest of us, the importance lies in momentum. Like a shark who drowns when it stops swimming, we must continue to move. Some bridges we will cross, some we will burn, and others we will just say… who the hell even needs a bridge as we find ourselves leaping into the air, the earth hundreds of feet below us. It is very true, however. Often, the other side is not as far as we think.

Originally published on September 24, 2015 at the author’s blog, The Boxing Buddhist at

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Next: “A Special Burn

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