Monday, April 5, 2010

More Reflections on Burning Bridges

"The future is brightly illuminated by the burning bridges of the past."

This is a quote that I have come to love more and more deeply. As I said goodbye to my old colleagues to begin getting ready for my new job, I was enjoying myself. I reflected on the year that had past, the challenges, how I'd handled them, the colleagues who supported me and those who didn't.

It felt good to say goodbye. I didn't feel like running away or being pushed away.

Don't Slam the Door
Next day, as I was walking the dog, I remembered the quote from Teflon and smiled as I thought "YES, this is it!" I was raised with the expression 'Don't slam the door', meaning that you should never leave a place in an angry manner. So far I would agree, but the way the phrase was interpreted by most people meant, "be sure they'll take you back if you ask."

I did not slam the door, but I did close it! I told them how the new company has made the effort to create a position that will fit me. How I am looking forward to it.

When I leave through my front door I do not slam it, but I also don't leave it wide open. I close it. I lock it. (I never used to lock my door, but this one will swing open if I don't so I lock it.)

But you know what? I've always been able to unlock it when I returned. What I am trying to say is that burning the bridges doesn't mean that I cannot build them again if I want to. It might not be exactly the same bridge; it might be stronger and more beautiful; the new bridge could be unstable and break.

Yes or No
Burning bridges also means that, when I get a question, I give a yes or a no answer; I don't live in the maybe's. When I decide to leave a job, I leave it. When people say that they would like to see me back, I'll smile and say 'thanks'. It doesn't mean that I'll never be back. But for now I'm gone.

If an ex-employer offered me an old job back the answer would be 'no' -- that bridge no longer exists. However, if they offered me the opportunity to join a new venture with them, I would definitely consider the possibility.

Burning bridges is new to me. It feels good, but there are times when I ask myself whether or not this is a bridge that I now want to rebuild, or, what would happen if others still believe that there is a bridge?

Last year I said goodbye to some old friends. Now they just sent me an invitation. This time the invitation included a girl who is now living in Australia and hasn't been back in Denmark in a while. My inclination was maybe, to keep the door open, to not decide, yet.

However, as I reflect on this, my answer has changed. I burned those bridges for a reason. Spending time with those people is like eating an ice cream: the taste is sweet but it isn't really nourishing.

They tell me how much they want to get together, and yet they often hesitate when I ask to set a time. Their way of keeping friendship with me is to meet once a year and have absolutely no contact in between.

I am actually really clear that this is not how I want to do friendship. I like to spend time with people who I find interesting and inspiring, and who want to spend time with me. To accept an invitation from this group of people I would need a bigger reason than a person returning from far away, a person who I stopped writing to because she didn't return my letters.

I guess that the kind of friendship they are offering is just not for me.

Now it's clear: if I had the choice between a day with this group or to spend an hour in the playroom, I would chose the playroom without hesitation. If I had the choice between a day with this group or a cup of coffee and a deep discussion with my girlfriend and her husband, I know what I would choose.

Are you clinging to old bridges? Living in maybes? Often? Sometimes? Never?

Big Love



  1. Thanks for the question Joy. I'm always fascinated and stimulated by these ideas too. Relationships. To burn or not to burn da bridge? Why burn the bridge? Is there some hint of fear perhaps, of not trusting oneself, that one imagines a need to burn a bridge, in order to not be sorta sucked back in?

    For me, I've learned to value, to appreciate, and to accept everything about my past. After all, without it, and all those relationships, I would not be where I am, present-tense. Therefore, the idea of burning my bridges, my past relationships, isn't it somewhat tantamount to burning down or running away from, or dissing, what I am? I am the result of the sum total of my experiences, and how I choose to see them and what do with them present-tense. I appreciate the lessons and opportunities that were presented for me. They do not have any power over me presently, or threaten to pull me back to doing whatever I might have chosen yesterday. I choose to be fearlessly in the present, free and enabled to respond freely to whatever I want most to do this moment. Dang this ADHD though,(lol)there is just so much to choose.....but isn't that part of the exctasy? being in the abundance of a such a garden of eden as to choices? BW

  2. Maybe Joy's "burn the bridges" or "did not slam but did close the door" is the same as BW's "they have no power over me presently or threaten to pull me back to doing whatever whatever I might have chosen yesterday".

  3. I guess that when I say burning bridges in relation to relationship, it is just as much about prioritizing time. Do I want to spend most of a day with some specific person whom I rarelyt see, if the alternative is to spend more time with a friend I often see. Sometimes it is more usefull to let go of the people from the past, say no (for now) -and maybe recreate a new relationship with the person later in life. Other times those old friends is a nice reminder - like coming home - like rememebering "a part of me almost forgotten" - and this can lead to see myself with new eyes.

    Endless choices are great - saying no is one of the choises.


  4. From an adhd perspective, I was injecting that yes, it is all choice, but the choice to focus even on saying 'no' to whatever, is time~~~ well, that for me could be used on remaining focused simply on enjoying and doing what one wants, in the moment. Me, at my age, don't care to choose to even spend time considering and deciding 'no'...... I simply do what I do, and love and value it all. huggingly Larry (the bw) ;)

  5. I like Joy's comment about priority and time.

    To me the burning bridges metaphor brings clarity to your decision. BW, one could characterize burning bridges as being 'afraid' of the hold that others have on them. Simultaneously, one could characterize NOT burning bridges as being afraid to let go.

    Depending on the situation, I'm sure that either might apply.

    In the end, it's a question of being clear. If you're going somewhere new and really want to make it happen, being finite, I would suggest that bridge burning can be quite useful.


  6. Was i suggesting unuseful?

    I meant only to stimulate exploring the thought, amidst the abundance of stimuli available in the present, behind the choice and habit of being to some extent distracted from present 'simply wanting and doing',...without in some way having to do a 'burning bridges dance' of sorts.

    'afraid to let go?' okaaaay, yes it could mean that. Perhaps what I'm speaking to is the essence of being simply awake, aware and clear as to what one wants, and, whether one is going for what one really wants presently, or what. Or, perhaps making excuses, that one has to 'burn bridges,' mentally in order to simply exist in the present for the present, with the 'present.' ;) Its all perfectly fine with me~~~~ really, hugs bw


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