bridge over a river

Why Bother Not Burning Bridges?

Why Bother Not Burning Bridges?

Bridges are important structures, a means from getting from one side to another. They span a physical obstacle such as a canyon, a lake, or river. Without them, getting across to the other side would prove impossible. 

Not All Bridges are Easy to Cross

A bridge that is not maintained is risky. I’ve driven over a few rickety old wooden ones with great caution, holding my breath in hopes they would hold up. While hiking, I’ve walked warily across bridges that swayed and swung under the weight of one person. Not all bridges are easy to cross.

While neglected bridges may be dangerous, a burned bridge no longer serves its purpose of spanning an obstacle. A burned bridge is an irreparable and ruined one. This is true literally when speaking about structures and figuratively when referring to relationships. 

 Along the way of becoming a teacher, I came close to striking a match and burning a professional connection. Impatient personalities, such as mine, find lighting matches easier than the alternative; applying patience.  

At the time, the obstacle I faced, becoming a certified public school teacher with my own classroom, felt like a barrier I’d never get across. First of all, I started later than most; after two of my sons had left the nest and when the last one was close to flying away. Hence, I had no time to waste, and like a circus pony, I hopped through every hoop, even the flaming ones. I aced every test, and did my best as a student teacher. Upon graduation, I was ready for hire and anxious for my own classroom.  

But, teachers in my district can hang their hats in the same classroom and in the same school for years on end, leaving few openings for newbies. So, while waiting for that opening, I worked hard as a substitute teacher, until finally landing a job as a paraprofessional in a resource room in a little rural school in my district. It was the most boring job in the whole wide world and I came close to lighting that match that would have ruined any chance to return to that school should a job open up in the unforeseen future.  But at the time, all I could see was the present, which wasn’t too pleasant.

I whined, but only to myself. I yawned, but only when no one was looking. I day dreamed of better days, but only on my break. Though tempted to quit, I stayed professional and persevered instead. It lasted a whole school year and then I was hired, in a different district, but I had my own classroom. 

 Having what I finally wanted did not bring the joy I thought it would. Instead, the commute was long and the community not so open to outsiders. Yet, I hung up my hat in that classroom for four years and waited. Then low and behold, I applied for an opening at that small rural school where I’d yawned, whined and daydreamed for better days . The bridge between us still stood intact and they hired me! I was grateful that I’d not lit the match that would have destroyed the means to my return and my future as a teacher with her own classroom in her own district. 

Why bother not burning bridges? We don’t know when we may need that bridge that will take us back and at the same time, lead us forward. But we know that if we burn it, it won’t be there when we need it. It’s worth it to douse the match and save the bridge. 

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