Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Bridge Builder

~by Will Allen Dromgoole

A pilgrim, going a lone highway,
Came at evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, deep and vast and wide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim.
The chasm held no fears for him.
But he paused when he reached the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near,
"Why waste your time in building here?
Your journey ends with the close of day,
You never again will pass this way.
You've crossed the chasm deep and wide.
Why build ye here at eventide?"
The pilgrim raised his old grey head,
"My friend, in the path I've come," he said,
"There followeth after me today
A fair-haired youth who must pass this way.
The chasm which held no fear for me
To the fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim.
My friend, I am building this bridge for him."

Today I navigated Kanan pass from the Ventura Highway to the Pacific Coast Highway, passing through canyons, past vineyards through three tunnels and lots of curves. After cresting the Santa Monica Mountains just past Backbone Trail, the ocean lay before me, her vista bared, in all her winter glory. This time of year, the ever-present marine layer is stripped away, revealing a startling, 160 degree view of the ocean.

This, by far, is my favorite route to the PCH.

I was sulking. And why not. I'm not immune and I certainly have it in me. I had just gotten off the phone after a conversation in which I was apparently the only conversant. The other party had not even done me the courtesy of listening to my side of the story. And I had rendered such  a passionate discourse. It had something to do with rebels.

Rebels come in all shapes and forms. Farley's Free Dictionary says to rebel is to dissent from an accepted moral code or convention of behaviour, dress, etc. I am a chiropractor by trade, but I choose not to wear a white coat in my practice. I also get to pick my hours and, because I don't like alarm clocks, I see my first patient at 10:00 a.m. I often, however, stay late for the after-work crowd. And work on Saturdays, for others. For this, I am a rebel. My work fits me.

An alternative definition for rebel is: to express opposition through action or words; "dissent to the laws of the country". And, another: to break with established customs. I am aware that my individual efforts, coupled with yours, will have a positive impact on our world. So I'm choosing to grow my own vegetables. This spring, I will do just that. That's one less bag of fertilizer, one less tree to make the bag, one less truck to get it to market, less gas consumed. I will pick it at the peak of perfection, plus have the pleasure of tending it and watching it grow.

In my opinion, rebels are not just insurgents, are not all organizing the overthrow of a country, a government, a regime. A rebel turns the spigot off while brushing his teeth, watches BBC because it's news and not commentary. A rebel reaches out her hand to her fellows because she can. Encourages. Cheers. Allows. Gives her time.

A rebel builds bridges. Even when the bridge is just a hand.

There are giants who walk among us. And giants tend to be rebels. Even when they don't think so.

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