We’re playing Pooh sticks. We are on a bridge, each armed with a stick of one size or another. All waiting in anticipation to let go. All wishing that our sticks won’t get caught in the reeds on the river bank on the way through. All hoping that we have picked a good stick. All holding our breath to see who’s stick will appear first on the other side of the bridge. Its a quiet nervousness mixed with bubbles of excitement.
The bridge we are stood on remains a constant. A solid structure from one side to the next. It is our place to play. It is over a hundred years old, this stone bridge. So many feet have passed over it. Bricks laid by hands that history forgot. Time marching onwards and the river flows below. Endless water washing down the mountain streams to a rapid river, under our bridge and out to sea.
My story of playing Pooh sticks with my children is linked to playing Pooh sticks with my cousins in the stream near my Grandpa’s house under the watchful eye of our mother’s who played Pooh sticks with their own cousins.
My story of playing Pooh sticks on this bridge is linked to all the feet who came before me, all the water that has flowed under it, the two opposing banks and the division that was healed through the foundations of the bridge. My story can only happen because of all those other stories that have come before. My story can be told in many ways with many connections and conflicts and characters.
The most magical thing about my story is that it has no doubt triggered other stories in you. Your childhood games, bridges you have crossed, gone and much loved grandparents. Tales of meandering rivers, hiding amongst the bull rushes and splashing in streams in moonlit dips.
In telling one story, we trigger more. In triggering more stories, we create a space for other stories to exist. We let the words of others fill our heads with images. We sit inside each others lives and worlds and loves and hates. We build bridges were there were none and discover hidden paths to memories and places that maybe we have forgotten. In telling one story, we tell many. We listen to a story, we connect. We remind each other to look up, to play, to explore, to take risks. We see ourselves in each other and we marvel with joy in sharing. We tell our stories together.
Stories can build bridges Between people, places and ideas. They are a circle. They never really end, But seed new beginnings and possibilities. They help us make sense of chaos, Overcome conflict, Change the way we breath. For who has not gasped Or held their breath Or sighed, or sobbed or giggled At the wonder of it all.