June 29, 2014

There’s Something About a Rope Bridge. ~ Jenifer DeMattia

Courtesy of Jenifer DeMattia (via Shutterstock)

When my boys were sick last week, we spent some extra time in front of the TV.

What I began to notice was that every children’s movie or show that my son picked out contained a similar scene.

There was a character that had to cross a long rope bridge by walking along wooden planks. The character would start walking, slowly, and then he would step down only to have the plank beneath his foot break and fall. As we watched the plank fall, we realized the dreadfulness of the situation.

A raging river. A vast canyon below.

Then, the character sighs with relief and continues walking, as if thinking,

“That wasn’t so bad, I can do this.”

Then, just when he is about half way, the whole freaking bridge just starts falling apart, panic sets in and by some miracle, he makes it to the other side.


My son was on the edge of his seat during each one of these scenes.

Why do all these movies have this in common? Did they get a bunch of children in a room and do a survey?

I couldn’t get it out of my head. And then it hit me last night after I spoke with my friend. I hung up the phone and all of a sudden felt better.

I discovered why the rope bridge stuck out to me.

This perilous act of getting across the unknown makes me think of what my children will face as they go into the world. I try to think of advice to give them—advice that will make them think twice before making certain decisions or taking risks.

But I realize this is an aimless pursuit.

Many people tried to give me advice without realizing that I was young, and the adventure of youth would have been non-existent had I cared to listen to their warnings.

So, the “recommendations” I have for my children on how to get through life were discovered while watching various characters crossing the rope bridge.

I only came up with 2 rules for making it to the other side.

1. Have A Purpose.

A recurring theme in these movies is that a character looks out across the far-reaching bridge, scared and shaky, only to take the initial step onto the first wooden plank because he is on a mission.

Whatever the goal may have been, it made the person choose the possibility of pain over turning back.

We get to watch, over and over again, how someone with a silly idea or belief can accomplish something we assumed was impossible because he acted bravely by choosing to follow his heart.

This is what I want my children to see clearly.

When we have ambition, passion, determination and a purpose, we have taken the first step onto the bridge. We will almost fall more times than we know. We will look back with regret, we will look down in fear, but we are following the only thing that matters in the end so we keep going.

And there will also be times where we run like hell because that just seems like the only option.

Granted, I need to lay off the children’s movies, but I can understand why we all love to watch someone make it to the other side. A purpose does not mean we will reach the end result we were hoping for, but it means that we had an adventure thrilling enough to believe we could make it across again and again. And, when we make it, we are standing exactly where we were meant to be on the other side.

2. Don’t Go It Alone.

These characters rarely ever crossed the bridge alone.

They had a friend, a buddy or an unlikely sidekick encouraging them across the unsteady terrain. These other characters would tell them not to look down, root them on, and sometimes step onto the bridge themselves if they thought their friend wouldn’t make it without them.

Now, I am not talking about a love interest. That I would classify as a pursuit.

A friend is someone we can talk to about our love interest. Friends are on the journey together, and many times help each other to discover the purpose itself.

This is the only other essential advice I will ever give my children.

Make good friends to help you get across the bridge.

Here’s what I have learned about a good friend. Friends are the family we find on our own. We share our ambitions with them. They are typically the reason we have decided to be so brave in the first place.

Like crossing the rope bridge, life is sometimes scary. For fear of falling, we don’t look around often enough to enjoy the beauty. Looking down only keeps us from enjoying the exciting parts.

Finding a friend. A true companion means that we have discovered the miracle that gets us across. Even at our bravest, we will always look back and realize we couldn’t have done it alone.



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Photo: Courtesy of Author (via Shutterstock)

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