It is in one mild day of winter, when the sun timidly shines in the cold air, that January seems a bridge.
A bridge between two periods of the year, the dark winter and the colorful spring. A bridge between our old self and the new year’s resolutions.
A bridge is a necessary connection, the important “in-between” that defines a direction, a purpose, an expectation. Some may say that the most important part of a journey is not the destination, but the journey itself. Therefore a bridge has a fundamental importance. In fact, we should accept that we have little control over what the the future holds; nothing and nobody can grant us that we will eventually reach our final destination, but we certainly can try to build a steady, strong, comfortable bridge in the attempt. That’s what we can do.
The word January (lat. Ianuarius) come from the name of Janus Bifrons, the two-headed god of beginnings and ends. Watching both forward and backward, Janus’ domain was the whims of fortune, the human race civilization and even the changing seasons.
Just as the divinity of its name, January looks expectantly at the new year, while reflecting on the old one, because the conception of new possibilities arises from past conditions.
The alder is the best tree for bridges: it lives close to rivers and ponds because its wood is impermeable, it resists himidity. In The Netherlands it was used to build the fundaments of Amsterdam (just like Venice in Italy), and for the same reason the Dutch used this wood to create their famous clogs.
The alder is very peculiar: if you try to carve its trunk, the dripping sap is red, just like blood. For all these characteristics, the alder was considered an intermediary between two worlds. Just like the bridges built with its wood.
I stopped today on a bridge, watching the water peacefully flowing somewhere. It has been cold in the past days, so you could see small sheets of ice sliding on the surface. I found it a very poignant metaphor of life. We walk our bridges, trying to find a connection called relationship, trying to arrive to the next step of our career, trying to escape an uncomfortable situation, and meanwhile everything flows, nothing stays the same.
Being still is not an option. Life doesn’t stay still. Even under the cold snow of January, Nature is patiently working her magic, keeping her seeds undercover e protected, waiting for the perfect time to let them germinate. And it always happens, in time, despite frost and parassites.
From our bridges, us human beings can learn from Nature: water may gently sing for us, as well as impetuously shatter against the wood we collected with difficulty; we will probably need to rebuild, change direction, wait for the storm to pass or take advantage of the mild sunny day to quickly procede. Whatever the shape, the material and the intention, this bridge is our life to build.
And January is here again to remind us this simple fact.