It was a hot sunny day as cars were screeching down the highway. Trucks were swerving left and right as pedestrians ran across the street. My close friend quickly pulled over to the side of the road, parked the car and looked at me. “Are you ready?” she asked.
I put on my reflective sunglasses providing me with the strong sense of anonymity. Looking into someone’s eyes is a dominant passageway of reading emotion. I wasn’t going to have that. I took a deep breath and nodded. It was time.
We stepped onto the busy highway, immediately feeling the sun’s heat on our faces. Ahead was a metal stairway and up above was my destination. The George Washington Bridge.
I felt my body begin to tremble, as I grasped onto the hot metal railing, pulling myself upward. The honks and screeches of the racing cars grew louder, the sun rays burned through my skin and the thoughts in my head began to escape. We began to walk towards the center of the bridge, dodging cyclists and runners. My friend plugged in her iPod as the wind became stronger and the noise grew louder. I felt the bridge under my feet rumble so violently that I couldn’t differentiate between the thumping of my heart and the shift of the bridge’s surface.
With every step towards the center, it became harder to breathe. I didn’t know what I was doing, or why I was there. Around me I saw signs. “You’re Not Alone,” one said. “In Crisis? Call the Life-Net hotline” said the other. I began to wonder how many people must have had to jumped in order for those signs to go up.
Finally at the center, I looked out to the view in front of me. Clasping tightly to the railing, blocking out the screams of the rolling tires and momentarily forgetting the blazing heat, I gazed out to the horizon of river and silently observed very ounce of water ahead of me. I followed the water with my eyes as the waves swarmed under the bridge until I was looking directly below me. It must have been at least 500 feet. It was a long way down.
I quickly turned around and watched as each vehicle sped by. For a moment, I saw my life flash across my eyes, as each car and each truck represented a portion of my life; my family, my academics, my friends, my career, and so on. They were all on the same journey, rushing towards the same direction. But there I was, disconnected, watching it all go by from the sideline. All my life I’ve been trying to perfect these areas, hoping to fix every broken patch in my life. If I were to jump in front of any of these moving cars, surely I’d die instantaneously. Instead of fixing the patch, I would have killed myself.
And that’s when it hit me. All my life I’ve been jumping in front of each car, attempting to fix every part of my life that may have beyond me in exchange of hurting myself. I’ve brought negligence onto my own life, failing to realize that just like I couldn’t stop these cars, I also can’t stop the amount of unexpected struggles that will come along on my journey. I’d have to step aside and let them pass. Some of these cars will crash on their own, and some will make it to their destination. But they’d have to do without me. I’d have to watch them drive by. For isn’t that what life’s all about? Struggles and obstacles that we attempt to fix , even if it mean risking our own well-being? But like the screeching cars and trucks on the highway, life simply, moves on.
And so I turned back towards the edge of the bridge facing the horizon of the water and the city. Every person that came here, did they realize this? That life was one major highway of life obstacles and experiences rushing by. Maybe some did and embraced it. While others, decided to take a leap of faith, literally. I held on tighter to the iron rail as the noise level once more began to rise. For a moment, I couldn’t handle everything that was going on in my life. I couldn’t stop these cars. I felt a lump in my throat as tears began to fall down my cheek under my large reflexive sunglasses. I felt lost and alone despite the signs behind me. I felt a loss of control on my life, just as helpless of not being able to stop the speeding cars. I sobbed uncontrollably as the bridge continued to shake beneath me. What made me any different from anyone who jumped before me?
So, I did let go of the railing.
But instead, I let go and walked in the opposite direction. I looked at my friend knowing she couldn’t see behind my large shades and into my cried, red eyes and smiled, signaling that it was time to go.
I didn’t jump. But my burdens did. And so I left it all behind as I walked in the same direction as the traffic, with every car, every truck, every experience, every struggle. All in that moment, everything was moving along, and I wasn’t going to stop it.