I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s inspirational book, BIG MAGIC. In a section about persistence Gilbert refers to the fun part of the writing life, when everything is going great. Words are flowing. You are affirmed in every writing relationship. Accolades are pouring in.
But then Gilbert brings up the all too familiar moments between. She writes, “You don’t leap from bright moment to bright moment. How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation, and how equipped you are for the weird demands of creative living. Holding yourself together through all the phases of creation is where the real work lies.”
Man, is she ever talking my language in this section. This is the true heart of discipline. We are all well-acquainted with these in-between and not-so-glimmering seasons of life. Whether you’re a parent, an artist, or you’ve dedicated yourself to a craft for a duration . . . you know the bridge moments. The day-to-day monotony of marching across the bridge. When you’re scared. When you’re exhausted and dripping with sweat. When the only view that snags your attention is the petrifying distance below. When you feel entirely alone on your journey—the moments between.
Today I’m offering five things to consider, as well as motivation to march on when you’re amidst a bridge season of life.
Use the time to pay attention
The world has a tendency to look different when you’re trudging across a bridge. You could choose to perceive everything at an impossible distance or you could admire the rare bird’s eye view of the trees. Marvel at the knotted rope holding you up. Or the ever-shifting cloud patterns in the sky. Take note of those who’ve walked before you and made it across. Find encouragement in the path—seek it.
Tap into an internal well of gratitude
No better time to give thanks for all the blessings in your life than while you’re on the bridge. Often we get distracted in the valleys and peaks. Bridge moments provide excellent time for reflection.
Reflect upon the distance you’ve traveled and all that you’ve learned
Mimic Lot’s wife. Look back. But briefly, and for the right reasons. You’ve come a long way. There’s dignity in this. And a pattern. You’ve invested much already. In your children. Your vocation. Your craft. Giving up now would be foolish. Years of hard work wasted. You have learned through every hardship, every failure, every misstep. Reflect, then onward.
Challenge your previously held perspective
Maybe you believed you’d be at the other side already. Or you thought someone would have come along to walk the rest of the way with you. Maybe you can’t stand how crazy and stupid long this one bridge is and are desperately eager to quit moving along. Maybe someone broke a promise or a deal went through or all your wishes weren’t granted. So? What now? The bridge is the perfect place to ask yourself what you expected to get out of this thing are you in this and what keeps you committed? The bridge has questions like these scrawled all over it.
Reassess the shoes you’re wearing
Have you equipped yourself with the best tools to make it across? A positive, tenacious spirit. Long-term vision. Giving attitude. Willingness to strip away jealousy. Dedication to put in the time it takes to push forward. Anyone would grow discouraged with gaping holes in the soles of their shoes. With puffy blisters reminding them how painful the walk is. It takes more than just talent and skill to traverse certain bridges. Choose wisely when you put your shoes on. You want them to carry you far. Through any and all terrains you encounter.
The bridge is ready. Are you?