Seems we humans are consumed by the notion of “getting to the other side,” whether we truly know what lies in store for us or not. For the most part and at its purest, it’s an admirable goal: to conquer the unknown, to bridge the proverbial gap between where we are and where we want to be. Throughout history, it’s helped us achieve an untold number of things.
I remember being on the water that remarkable, bright and warm May day in 2013. We had come upon The Forks, where the Assiniboine flows into the Red, and followed the Red River’s course a little further to the north. What a splendid ride it was, basking in the fresh air and late afternoon light — a perfect way to usher in an evening among good friends. It also provided another perspective on everyday sights usually experienced from dry land. Walkways, stairs, and yes especially bridges made me think of the many ways we try to remain connected, even as we cross over to a new place or a new state of being.
We strive to “cross over” in order to arrive at a more peaceful place than the one we find ourselves in, the one we ultimately hope to depart. And although truly moving on requires a very necessary severance of ties, as well as the ability to turn away from ways of thinking and being that no longer serve us, there is something to be said for not forgetting whence we came. It has often been said that we are the sum of our experiences, even when some of those experiences may have caused us pain or brought out the worst in us. It’s part of being human, the ups and downs, the delightful and the dismal elements of the journey each of us is on.
This weekend marks the opening of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights here in Winnipeg, a project that, from its initial conception to its most recent ribbon-cutting, has been highly anticipated and long in the works. Seen here from the Red River that self-same lovely May day, still under construction, it reminds me of how far we have come and how long is yet the road ahead. The Museum of Human Rights seems to anchor this very notion, that it is a tangible foothold allowing us a place from which to examine the past but also bridge our way into a different kind of future.
Where our thinking may once have been strictly linear, of destiny preordained, now we know so much more about steering the direction of our lives. We choose and thereby we move. And yet as we roll forward, for that is the only direction we can go, we must remember to keep one eye on the lessons of the past whilst looking to the next road, the next bridge that leads us into the future we desire.