It is almost two years since I started working under the name 'Social Bridge' ~ which draws my interests in sociology and writing together. Not surprisingly, poems, quotes, paintings and photographs relating to bridges have become a source of continuing interest to me. However, the song Bridge over Troubled Water, which was written by Paul Simon and brought to the world through the voice of Art Garfunkfel, is the piece of art which I feel comes closest to what I see as being the mission of a Social Bridge, especially one like mine that focuses, in part, on issues around loss and grief.
I was surprised to find that the song was released as far back as 1970 ~ 42 years ago now. I remember well listening to it over and over on our first record player, when I was a young teenager, and still have the precious single stored away in a box of treasures.
Over the years, I have come across some very powerful bridges when the rivers of my life have seemed to be flooding out of control. When thinking about those people who have been there and cared, one of the striking similarities between them is how they have tended to use only very few words, or maybe just a hug. One person, for example, wrote to me at a time of major stress and simply said:
Like the weather, we do not always have sunshine or calm sky. Let's look past this current moment to other times. But, let me be part of the storm and dark clouds even if all I can do is experience them with you.
These words were written many years ago now but they have stayed with me because I knew that they were written with absolute honesty and care. The dark clouds and storm did pass to reveal blue skies and sunshine but the impact of those simple words has remained with me as an example of how a few well-chosen sincerely meant words can have a profound impact when the world seems black.
It's certainly not easy to say the right thing when you know that someone is down, but perhaps there is a lesson here that it is the quality of the caring rather than the quantity of the words that really counts.
As I listen to Art Garfunkel singing Bridge Over Troubled Water, I feel that I am listening to a song that is ultimately about the heart and empathy that is so badly needed by us all at different times in our lives.