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    Bridge to Somewhere

    Photo By Christopher Turner

    By Dr. Tim Seelig–

    By their very nature and definition, bridges connect two things. The concept of bridges is one near and dear to Californians. In fact, our Governor wrote a message this month that said, “We build bridges, not walls!” I’m pretty sure it fell on deaf ears at the other end of the line. Governor Brown’s message is one example of a Bridge to Nowhere.

    This is not the only bridge that went nowhere. The most famous of these is in the San Gabriel Mountains. Built in 1938, it was designed to straddle the East Fork of the San Gabriel River. But it just never got connected. You can hike to it, look at it, walk on it, and even bungee jump off of it. But it’s just not a bridge. It goes nowhere.

    Another is in Alaska. Dubbed the “Bridge to Nowhere” thanks to Sarah Palin, it would have connected the town of Ketchikan (population 8,900) with its airport on the Island of Gravina (population 50) at a cost to federal taxpayers of $320 million. Smarter heads prevailed and it was scrubbed. She was hoping to see Alaska from the bridge.

    In the town from which I came—Dallas—they have two beautiful new suspension bridges. One is by the famous bridge designer Santiago Calatrava. The bridges do connect two things. There’s just one problem: there is nothing beneath them. No water. No canyon. No bay. Mostly just dirt. To be fair, there is a creek that sometimes floods. But, by definition, they qualify as bridges. There has been a 30-year plan to create a “river” beneath them, but the city council can’t agree on the plans for the water part, so they just built the bridges anyway. Ouch. But they are bridges to somewhere!

    Here in the Bay Area, we are surrounded by stunning bridges. In addition to being beautiful and romantic, they serve as literal lifelines for countless people on a daily basis. Without them, San Francisco would be a little isolated burg at the top of a peninsula. And what would that do to our city’s theme song?! We would have nothing golden to open.

    Those are the literal bridges, but there are so many more to consider. There are figurative bridges we may not ride across, walk on or take pictures of, but the ones we traverse in our daily lives: relationships.

    Think of how many relationship bridges you cross in a day, making connections from yourself to another person. The most important thing in relationship success is obviously that you build the bridge halfway and someone else builds their half back to you—meeting right in the middle.

    We all have those friends who expect you not only to build the bridge all the way over to them, but to do all of the work, and be perky upon arrival. Doing all of the work in a relationship is just exhausting. There are times we build a bridge all the way across a chasm and find a wall. Advice—turn back! Don’t stay there banging your head against that wall. Let it go and run fast back across the bridge you built! Bridge to Nowhere.

    There are times when we might be the ones sitting at home, expecting the other person to build the bridge all the way over and pondering why it is taking so long. Why haven’t they called, e-mailed, texted, tweeted, snap chatted? And you think, “I’ll show them. I won’t reach out until they do!” How did that work out for you? Bridge to Nowhere.

    Then there are those that work perfectly. You “see someone across a crowded room and somehow you know, you know even then that somehow you’ll see him again and again.” Sorry, I momentarily slipped into show tune mode. It was enchanting, though.

    Hopefully, at some point, we all have experienced that BFF or spouse where things worked perfectly. You place a brick; they place a brick. You build toward each other—and voila—a magical bridge is built. It is thus with my husband. And we just keep adding support to our own side of the bridge, making it stronger every day. That’s a Bridge to Somewhere.

    My life has been all about bridges—the dry ones in Dallas all the way to the “most famous bridge in the world.” It’s also been about bridges to other people. Most of all, my entire life—OK, only since the age of three—has been about musical bridges. There is nothing like what happens when we open our ears and hearts to a song that touches us. Or, when we sing a song to someone, or to lots of someone elses.

    Next week, SFGMC will present an entire concert titled “Bridges.” Why? Well, mostly because that’s what we do. It’s what we have been doing for almost 40 years. We build bridges to members of our community and from our community to our families, friends, and fans who hear us sing.

    We are very excited about this concert. We will explore many types of bridges through our music:

    A Bridge Across the Bay

    Special Guests: Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir

    A Bridge to the South

    A deep look into last October’s Lavender Pen Tour

    A Bridge Across Divides

    California premiere of “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed”

    A Bridge to the Future

    OIGC Youth Chorus

    A Bridge to the Past

    Special Guest: Holly Near, who sang with SFGMC in November, 1978

    And those will not be the only ones. Maybe you can join us, building bridges and tearing down walls with every note of every song.

    Building bridges is what we all do every day. It is a risk. But living life to its fullest is always a risk. Only in taking risks do we learn, grow, feel and experience real joy.

    Think about building a new bridge today. Think about adding a brick or two to support the one you value. Note to self … avoid Bridges to Nowhere!

    Dr. Tim Seelig is the Artistic Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.