I recently read “The Bridge of Sighs” by Richard Russo. The original “Bridge of Sighs” is a stone bridge in Venice that connects the old prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace in Saint Mark’s Square. It is the last view of Venice the convicts see before their imprisonment. Crossing this bridge, the convicts, at least the ones without money or influence, believed all hope was lost. According to legend, their despairing sighs could be heard echoing in the canal. Reading this book made me wonder if I had my own personal “Bridge of Sighs”. I certainly can remember a time in my life when I thought all hope was lost, that things had gone irretrievably bad, and there was little hope it would ever change. I think perhaps my friends could hear my sighs as they echoed off whatever walls were around me. I still sigh a lot! They are not because of my situation but for those around me whom I love. As an example, my daughter called me the other day (a Saturday) and said the brakes on her car were gone and she was stranded. She hitched a ride home with a friend and I went to her stranded car and quickly determined she needed a new master cylinder. Several hours later, I had the new part, but was unable to remove the old one (sigh!). I don’t give up easily; however, I continued the effort with no success. Later, I decided to call it a day, went home and sent an email to my friend (Rick), an expert auto mechanic, asking him for advice. “I will go with you tomorrow”, he cheerfully responded. The next morning I picked him up and we headed up to repair the car. Five minutes after popping the hood, my friend had the offended part off, and an hour later the car was delivered to my daughter’s front door (sigh!). You have a really good friend when he drops everything to give you a hand. Thank goodness I was spared a trip across the “Bridge of Sighs” once again!
On our recent vacation of 1800 miles I had a dramatic learning experience. We were traveling on I65 after having stopped for a big lunch. We were, perhaps, 50 miles from where we ate and I started getting sleepy. Jerilyn was sitting next to me reading something or the other, and I was fighting off the need to take a nap. Determined to overcome my sleepiness (I have done that many, many times), I soldiered on, but noticing the car was drifting toward the side of the road on occasion. The next thing I know the car is making a severe thumping sound (the sound of tires running over the grooved edges made on the side of the road just for people like me). Finally I gave up, turning the driving chores over to Jerilyn and moving to the passenger seat for a quick nap. An hour later, I was back in the captain’s seat, alert, slightly shaken, and ready to assume command of the road. I want to pass on to you what I learned from that situation:
- Never eat a large meal if you have a lot of driving left after the meal.
- Never try to fight through sleepiness when you are at the wheel of an automobile (which I have done successfully before, giving me a false sense of confidence).
- If you are the least bit sleepy never use the “Speed Control” (the car will not slow down as you begin to doze off).
I applied those three lessons and had no further problems during the rest of our vacation. I’m just thankful that God doesn’t sleep on the job!
I am aware there is no law that says good people live longer than bad people and I wonder why? It seems to me that if you do the right thing all of your life, there should be some reward, and part of that reward should be an extended, healthy life. There are so many people I’m close to that live a good, decent life, and yet they are involved in a tremendous struggle to regain their health. I have always known there were things in life that could not be explained, but I am guilty of thinking as I get older that some of the explanations should appear. That has not happened; the complexities of life in my opinion will never be revealed to anyone. I remember being around 9 years old, sitting in my small bedroom at Page Coal Camp, and marveling at the new things that were being revealed to me on a daily basis. I just knew that in time, everything would be explained and my book of knowledge would become huge as I aged. It might as well have been a book of dreams. The Lord reveals very little to us, and yet he expects so very much L. Ernest Dimnet said: “The happiness of most people we know is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive things.” Sadly, that is not what happened to most of the people in my life that are struggling to regain their health.
I have always felt there was more going on inside me than what others see, and I’m willing to bet that most of you feel the same way. I’m confident that most of my friends see me as a “happy go lucky” type of guy when in fact, I don’t see myself as that at all. Internally I seem to worry a lot, mostly about people, and seldom about external things like malfunctioning cars, broken lawnmowers, and leaky water faucets. I worry about relationships, people’s health and finances, and their inability to deal with those problems. I have tried to work on my inner turmoil by changing something small, and then waiting to see how it feels. Often, the change will feel good, and I am encouraged to make other changes, but when do, I realize that I have what I want from life. I pray a lot, and often feel the Lord is not talking to me, but I’ve come to the realization that he doesn’t whisper in my ear, he talks to my spirit, and that is where I have to focus my attention. At night, when the sun has gone to sleep and the moon has taken command of the sky, I think about the day just completed, and hope I have made Him proud of me. If I have done that, it has been a good day!
When, as a small boy of 8, one of our neighbors in our coal camp had a dog that would bite. One day as I walked past, as it lay asleep in the noonday sun, it jumped up and bit me just below my ribcage. I was rushed to the only doctor in our area (Dr. Moore), and he immediately sewed me up, bandaged the wound, and I was back home in a matter of hours. My folks, with the backing of other neighbors, pursued the matter in court and since the dog was known to bite, the owner was ordered to dispose of the dog. It was rumored the dog wasn’t destroyed, just moved to a faraway place. I had the scars from that bite for many years but as time passed, they disappeared and my memory of being bitten left also. We receive many wounds during a lifetime, many scars are created, and in time we forget about them and forgive those responsible. I believe if you cannot move past the tribulations of the past, you will lose the ability to enjoy the many things that make life wonderful. If my heart is filled with resentment, how could I possibly enjoy watching a squirrel in our backyard trying to get to a birdfeeder filled with peanuts by climbing a pole I greased with Vaseline? Oh, how did I move past being bitten by that mean dog? I believe it was the support I received from our little community that helped heal those terrible wounds. We should never forget to show support for members of our community that have been wronged! The healing process is greatly affected by that. I am reminded of a quote by Voltaire: “The art of medicine consists of keeping the patient amused while nature heals the disease.”
I hope that wherever you live on this wonderful planet, you are safe from harm, secure in a happy life, and that you have enjoyed this view from “My Window on The World”. If you get a chance, drop me a line, I would love to hear from you. Remember, if you are rich, your name is on a building; if you are middle class, your name is on your desk; if you are poor, your name is on your shirt ………………………Tommy
To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere
without moving anything but your heart…..Phyllis Theroux