The Ties that Bind…

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The organic bridge

The organic bridge

A couple of weeks ago a received an email that showed pictures of a series of amazing bridges in India that are actually grown rather than built.  The bridges are grown from the roots of a rubber tree.  To make them, the people use betel-tree trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create root-guidance systems.  When the rubber tree roots reach the other side of the river, they’re allowed to take root in the soil. Given enough time a sturdy, extraordinarily strong, living bridge is produced that can support fifty people or more.

The pathways that connect...

The pathways that connect...

Some are over thirty metres long and take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional.  Since the bridges are alive and still growing, they actually gain strength over time, and some of the ancient root bridges used daily by the people of the villages may be well over five hundred years old.

The idea is delightful and shows the way humans can work with nature to produce systems we can both live with.  But there was something else happening here, I thought there was something I was missing.  Then it came to me in a flash.  These bridges are love.  They are in every way a perfect description of the most indescribable idea.  Let me show you what I mean.

Islands in the stream become communities in the world

Islands in the stream become communities in the world

If every person is an island, then here is how we bond to form a relationship and eventually a community.  The love that grows between people works just like these bridges.  It takes time to be able to grow them together and it takes nutrients and work from both sides to build it.  It takes even more nutrients and work to keep it alive over a long time; but the results are always worth it.  They form the pathway for communication and exchange, but also bind people together.  Any kind of relationship needs time to grow and change and mature.  The bridges do the same.  A new relationship is relatively weak, before the roots can be planted in the soil of the other side to grow, they can be easily torn apart.  As each person spends time caring for their side of the bridge and feeding the roots from the other side, the bridge grows stronger.  The more time they spend growing that bridge, the stronger their connection becomes.  They start to forget where one island ends and the other begins as the sense of oneness or togetherness becomes fundamental.

One person may well build a bridge with only their lover, their partner.  Another person will build bridges with their partner and their families.  Others will include close friends.  The more love you have to put into your bridges, the more bridges you can grow.  The network of islands that have bridges grown together form a community, a culture, a common identity.  Ideas, feelings, hopes and desires spread through the community across these bridges with incredible speed.  The stronger these bridges are in the community, the stronger the community as a whole becomes.  To attack one of these islands is to attack all of the connected islands at the same time.  Pain is carried across the bridges as quickly and efficiently as happiness.  A strong bridge helps that island bear greater pain; more than one strong bridge allows that island to cross deserts unharmed or move mountains unchallenged.  But no bridges means the island can become lost in the waves.

Not everybody can grow these bridges the first time they try.  Some people will never be able to grow them, they just cannot give the love needed to let them take root.  If the roots from one island make it to the other side, but do not receive enough care, enough nutrients, they will never take hold and eventually wither and die.  Sometimes the roots only catch on one side of the bridge, one island gives the care needed for the other island’s roots to take nutrients; but the love is not returned.  The bridge may appear to be strong at first, but growing from only one side, it is weak.  The island that does not provide for it’s partners roots will eventually drift and tear the bridge to pieces.  The pain is incredible for the island that invested so much love, but there is almost no pain for the island that gave nothing.

This is why some people think they have strong bridges built already; but do not.  They do not see that they are providing all the love or none of it.  Everybody today wants to believe the bridges are already built, that they can happen instantly; they can’t.  It’s only when the bridge is tested for strength that you discover how well the islands have grown together.  And it is only harsh weather and disaster that can test these bridges.  I’m sure you already know the person or people you think you have one of these bridges with.  Have the bonds been tested?  Do you feed the roots all you can?  Are you just taking nutrients from the other island without a care for returning your own?

I think everyone is able to make these bridges if they spend the time and effort to do so, but some people never do.  If they’ve never seen a bridge like this between people, why would they build one for themselves?  How do they ever have that idea?  Everyone craves the connection and intimacy these bridges provide; humans are social animals.  Then fear gets in the way of healthy growth.  Fear of the unknown, fear of how the other island will use the bridge, fear you are providing all the nutrients, but receiving nothing.  It feels safer to stay isolated.  Especially in large cities, where everyone is so close together, but so far apart.  You can throw a quick line out to someone and feel that you can withdraw it and feel safe again.  The truth is that true strength, security and the ability to deal with any fear only comes when the islands are connected; and connected as strongly and as often as you can manage.  Do you have some watering to do?

The ties that bind...

The ties that bind...

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