Of late I have often reminded myself that we encounter things along our path that are merely bridges. Bridges help to guide us towards our destination, but are not destinations unto themselves. This is a critical distinction as some people, unable to discern the difference between the two, get stuck on the bridge. A lot of my developmental experiences, while quite valuable, were not sufficient to push me to where I am now or where I aspire to be.
I have been propelled along by a certain taciturn and inquisitive nature. I have also reached points where these interim stages were untenable. That despite my myopic desires, I was forced to move forward. I have reached other junctures where I found it necessary to return to earlier points, reacquaint myself with the lessons that those moments occasioned, and move forward from there with renewed clarity.
These experiences collectively affirm for me that the path is neither linear or always apparent. Yes, it consists of interim stages, but its beginnings and endings are often clouded in the confluence of events. My path began in 1975, but is also entangled in the paths of wazazi wangu na wazazi wao (my parents and their parents), in addition to the broader familial and communal contexts that they inhabited. Moreover, my path’s ending will definitively occur in a physical sense, as I am not immortal, but the impact of my life should persist among those whose paths intersected my own. Even prior to this eventuality, my own striving for fulfill my life’s work is not a destination as much as it is a process of unfolding. I liken it to the physical universe, which will end, but whose interim stage is an ever unfolding cascading of occurrences of expansion, endings, and transformations.
To be sure, I have set an abundance of achievable goals with measurable outcomes for myself, but even the fulfillment of these do not represent an ending for my journey. They are occasions which enable other occasions. But even these are unrealizable if I mistake the bridge for the terminus of the journey. Bridges, no matter how expansive or architecturally magnificent, are not destinations. They are conduits. Ephemeral junctures. One mustn’t lose sight of this.