I don’t know. I’m old now. I’ve been doing things the same way for a really long time. My commitment to the same way of doing things is mostly unconscious, nevertheless ferocious and deep. Case in point: “Is it the Sagamore Bridge? No, I think it’s the Bourne Bridge. No, wait, I’m not sure. Oh, shit.”
I’ve been coming to Cape Cod for several decades now. With different iterations of housing that track my aging process, from camping in major rainstorms and sleeping in resulting mud, to the current housing, the-slightly-above-funk-motel, the Cape is alive with memories and images of different incarnations of my life unfolding, all rich and seasoned with heart. In my early lesbian feminist days, Provincetown was a’gaggle with excitement and stimulation galore for me. Now, decades later, it is more amusing that life-affirming, more successful marketing than identity validating. Nevertheless coming here is a home-coming, one that tracks my life, nostalgic and rich with luscious light, stunning sand dunes, and a repertory of memories of salt-aired freedom. But in this sea of constant change, there is one issue that remains the same, summer after summer. That issue? The which-damn-bridge-to-take issue.
You must understand—I am married to one of life’s more efficient navigators, a map-reader extraordinaire. Although I am personally map-adverse, I am surely one of life’s more competent drivers. Together we are a vehicular team of safe efficiency. We can’t make a navigational mistake, even if we try; we have been lost only once in our 20+ years together (oh, that damn Boston!), yet, the which-damn-bridge-to-take-issue snags us yearly. Coming into the Cape our individual and collective memories seem to fuzz. Toward the end of whatever highway it is, we start to fret: Sagamore? Bourne? Bourne? Sagamore? We’ve discussed really simple methods of documentation from year to year, writing on the map, keeping the correct bridge name indelibly written on some piece of something, somewhere, etc. It just never happens. And it never needs to, since we always, at the last instant of possibility, turn off onto the “right” bridge. Except this year. This year we did it “wrong”.
I was fully responsible for a last moment’s jerking away from the usual and habitual exit. The result? We found ourselves on ANOTHER BRIDGE. It was shocking, slightly exhilarating, and disorientating. And—stranger than strange—it was a miraculous “mistake”! We ended up on the other side of the Canal (not sure which canal, but some canal), missed the traffic circle from hell, merged into Route Six easefully—and probably saved a few minutes driving time! WTF? All these years, we thought we were taking the “right” bridge?
What if there was no such thing as a “mistake”? What if a “mistake” is only an opportunity to do something differently, to open the doors to a new way of seeing things, of approaching things, of being in relationship with things differently?
Dr. Bill Thomas, geriatrician and proponent of mindful aging, urges us to let go of that which we do the best, for the next thing to emerge in our lives. Similarly letting go of right and wrong, good and bad, frees us up for—we don’t know what. That’s the point—we don’t know and, in the not knowing, lives the freedom of rebirth.
What might you imagine doing differently in your world? How might life be different if the concept “wrong” didn’t exist? Today, is there anything you can shake up, any old behavior readied to shift and change? Give it a go, dear friends. And open your heart to the possibilities.