Transitions Across a Void

For me bridges invoke a plethora of memories. A bridge is not only a structure that reaches across an expanse, it can be also be a connection mental or emotional.

As a child one of my first memoirs of bridges was hearing about how my father built bridges and later as an adult my younger brother followed suit. These seemed to me as worthy deeds, the building of bridges. I also recalled the fear and trepidation of my mother when it came to crossing bridges. The bigger the bridge the worse her anxiety became.

There was an infamous bridge collapse during my childhood that alarmed my grandmother who was babysitting for my parents. I recall watching the news with her as she waited in dread on the phone call confirming her fears. It was December 15th, 1967 when the bridge fell, taking forty-six lives with it when it plunged into the cold dark Ohio River. My parents were not on it; they had gone to Kentucky not West Virginia. My grandmother had forgotten where it was they were going as they traveled often.

Later on as a young teen, I and a few of my buddies had a confrontation with a gang of older teens on a bridge. In one of my early Mystic Dream Walker books there is a scene that drew from this memory. In the book it was on the same bridge that the hero of the story crossed with his girlfriend. In real life this encounter was on a separate bridge, and my girlfriend eventually became my wife.

Like in my stories, I’ve crossed several bridges that the transit was hair raising. However, not all of my recollections came from crossing a bridge. One of the most dangerous moments in my life came after just crossing a bridge. I was a young teen riding my bicycle with my friends when my bike was clipped by a car. It was a hit and run accident and the car was doing at least seventy miles an hour, (that was the speed limit anyway).

The impact folded my bike in half, knocked the handle bars into my front spokes or the other way round and gave me a tilt a whirl ride through the air. I was still spinning in the air as the car drove out of sight. If you are worried if I made it or not, you will have to wait till the end of the blog to find out.

In the martial arts there is a term from kenjutsu (Japanese swordsmanship), that means to cross a great distance. This is to signify the gap between to fencers. My sensei (Tom Manson), who gave me my (menkyo kaiden), a license of total transmission for our ryu also taught me about bridges.

Manson, sensei before he retired from his state job had taught three of the five districts for our state in armed and unarmed tactics to parole, probation, corrections, SWAT, State Patrol, county and municipal officers. As to the municipal officers, that was only when requested. From time-to-time he also had folks from the federal alphabet soup groups come for his shooting and unarmed seminars. 

Tom always said and this is paraphrased, “When you enter a dojo, achieve your first rank or gain your black belt you have crossed a great distance”. It takes courage to start new endeavors and to me that is a bridge, and by the way I survived the hit and run!



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