Wednesday 10 January 2017
Back to work this week after a wonderful Christmas and a New Year break with Hedda in Dubai for a family visit. Today I am at Ashridge Business School for the start of a two-day workshop facilitated by a hugely talented group of doctoral students (ADOC5, for those who know the system).
For the opening circle, we were invited to select an image from a collection of postcard-sized pictures and speak to it. I chose the picture above: a bridge in an ornamental garden of some kind. My choice was instinctive rather than rational but I have plenty of time to think about its meaning and significance as I wait for my turn to speak.
The photograph is taken from the point of view of someone standing at one end of the bridge, but whether they are looking ahead to a bridge they are about to cross or looking back at one they have already crossed, is a matter of conjecture. Perhaps, in some way, both possibilities exist at the same time: a sort of Schrödinger’s Bridge.
As I muse on the ambiguity and complexity of this apparently simple image, it occurs to me that the now in which we live our whole lives is in constant transition; always moving from one temporal shore to the other; an infinitely repeating fractal of bridges upon bridges that constitutes at every scale (moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day, year to year, birth to death) the span of our existence. What lies on either side is a mystery: the future is unknowable; the past soon dissolves into memory and stories.
As I contemplate the image, I feel a rush of gratitude. How extraordinary it is to be alive, to have incarnated during this brief tick of the cosmic clock – the stellar age – when life in our universe is possible.
I try to explain these grand existential thoughts to the group, using hand gestures to illustrate an infinite number of bridges stacked one upon another but I can tell from their puzzled expressions that I’m not doing a very good job. I need another metaphor.
You know how it’s Turtles all the way down?
There is laughter and some people nod as they recall the old joke.
Well it’s Bridges all the way up!