Designing and Building Bridges: A Guide to a Happy Life

ms gulf coast bridge may 9

Mississippi has beautiful bridges. Some are draw bridges that let the big ships come through on the coast. Others cross the rivers and creeks allowing people and cars to safely navigate the roads and highways. There is such beauty in how big and regal bridges stand along the highways.

My father worked as a civil engineer designing bridges all over the state. As a child he would point out every small aspect of a bridge. Every bridge he worked on made up a part of his life. They were a trace of who he was. He often used these bridges to point out life lessons for me.

The first life lesson for me is to respect the life surrounding you. Before a bridge can be designed and built a site must be chosen and surveyed. The ecosystem surrounding the bridge is studied for the effect the bridge will have on the wildlife. Many bridges in Mississippi have been delayed or moved through the years due to the effects on the ecosystem.

A healthy ecosystem is important to all of us. Making a few small changes in lives to protect our environment is easy and as a daily habit hardly noticeable. One small sign of respect for life is not throwing trash on our highway systems. It is an easy habit to develop and makes a positive significant difference in the ecosystems.

The second life lesson for me is to design your life for positive improvement. The design of the bridge is a complement to its surroundings. If the bridge has design flaws then the environment will falter. My father believed that we should be a positive example for the people that we came in contact with. My life should be filled with kindness and compassion toward everyone that I meet.

Sometimes kindness and compassion are difficult to show in the extreme difficulties of life. It is hard to practice these concepts in a world that is cruel and bitter. Sometimes circumstances force us to see the evil that is abundant in this world. But a few kind words and compassion can cause a small light to shine that will spread and overcome some of the evil in the world. A bit of the bitterness and cruel behavior is changed by one small act of kindness.

The third life lesson was that there should be strength in my character. Bridges are built with strong concrete and bearings. They are made to withstand the harsh elements and the many pounds of weight that the bridge is subject to each day. Thus it was to be with my character as shown by strength in my integrity and hard work to sustain the harsh realities of life.

The fourth lesson was to see the larger picture and realize that the issues of life were just passing through. Draw bridges have points where the bridge will split and let the large boats go through. These bridges are fascinating to watch. In a small span of time they will open and let the ship pass. Then the bridge will close and the traffic pattern will return to normal.

In times of crisis we are often in conflict with one another. Working together can be difficult at times. Remembering that the common goal of solving an issue requires comprise and diplomacy. By letting the small issues pass through then we can work on the larger issues that affect all of us. The conflict can be resolved and perhaps the circumstances can be improved for all people.

The fifth lesson was build relationships that will last a lifetime. There are many old bridges in Mississippi that are still standing after new bridges have been built to replace them. The old steel keeps them strong and many are used as piers or alternate routes in times of adversity. Like the old bridges new relationships are entered but there is a place for the old ones to be nurtured and cherished.

old bridge picture of daddy's

The final life lesson is to understand that bridges bring cultures and people together. By working with a diversity of  people we can all benefit. Bridges are wonderful in that they take the road in two directions. One side will bring things into one place and the other side will take things to another place. Both sides of the bridge are equally important and should be respected.

My father has been gone for many years now. I love to travel the highways and roads of Mississippi and see the bridges that he took part in designing. He left a legacy of helping to secure strong bridges to connect people. This is the lesson that carries me through this life.

Copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce

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15 responses to “Designing and Building Bridges: A Guide to a Happy Life

  1. I like how you connect bridges to life’s challenges. By the way, about your reference to draw bridges for letting boats pass. For many years, living in Seattle, I was one of those skippers that raised the bridges while some drivers enjoyed watching me pass under, and others fumed.

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