"they say the owl was a baker's daughter. lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be." (Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5)

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011


If you have ever driven west out of Pittsburgh, past the airport, and through Weirton, West Virginia, you'll find yourself on the most magnificent feat of civil engineering: the Fort Steuben Bridge.  It will, quite literally, take your breath away.  I haven't been on it recently, but I passed over it many times to visit my grandmother while I was an undergrad at Pitt.  The amazing thing about that bridge, is you pass from one state to another, and all the while, you're suspended in mid-air.  Suspended. Like a tightrope walker.

The word suspended finds its origins in Medieval Latin, meaning uncertain.  And is there any worse sensation than uncertainty?  Indecision, stumbling anxiety, lacking confidence, absent conviction.  The honest response, "I don't know. I'm not sure."  Uncertainty is everything I despise.  To me, uncertainty is akin to despair.

And yet, suspension is the only way I can describe it.  Nothing is as I had hoped.  Expectations failed, failed beyond any shadow of recognition.  The last 18 months feel like a ride on an eternal suspension bridge. No border crossings, no progress, just endless linear movement, sometimes in reverse.  And I don't know.  I don't know if I keep going, pressure on the accelerator, eyes on the odometer, and just go.  And hold steady: commitment. Remain committed to my expectations, and refuse to be disappointed. Is that within my control?

And I don't know. I don't know if I stop, force on the brakes, eyes on the speedometer, and just go.  And walk away: commitment.  Remain committed to what I believe to be possible, and refuse to accept anything less. Is that within my reach?

What is the line between patience and stupidity?  What is the statute of limitations on effort?

I can do a lot of things. But I can't answer these questions. I feel just like I am sitting on that suspension bridge, desperately trying to get to the other side, but I can't get there, and people are counting on me.  I am more frustrated than I have ever been.  And it's all so ... pointless. Isn't it?

Most days, I distract myself with music.  I find some tunes to make me smile, a soundtrack for my days. I always start with All Along the Watchtower (Dave Matthews version), and from there, it's anyone's guess.  This Saturday, suspended in time, working on a holiday week-end, it was no accident that Florence and the Machine invited themselves into my space.  When she was finished, she left her lyrics behind, little drops of wisdom suspended in the air, within my reach, and for a moment, I left all of those unanswerable questions unanswered.  Let them wrestle with themselves for awhile. 

Sometimes it seems that the going is just too rough
And things go wrong no matter what I do
Now and then it seems that life is just too much
But you've got the love I need to see me through

Thanks Florence. You're right. I could stay on this suspension bridge all the livelong day.  I am not patient. But I'm not stupid either. There's a way out of this, or a better way to be in this, or for sure a way through this.  My view is good.  My soundtrack even better. And the company I keep, well, the company i keep is second to none.  But, I don't want to brag.