The Bridge

As a writer, which includes this blog and all my musical composition, I consider myself a bridge.  What is a bridge?  Google defines: “A structure that allows people or vehicles to cross an obstacle such as a river or canal …”

I’m interested in the obstacles that we all face in this partly human experience on Planet Earth and the crossing thereof.  The verb definition is most interesting to me: “To connect or reduce the distance between”.  That’s my goal – to reduce the distance between this human existence (mortality) and my spiritual completeness (spirituality).  To reduce it to nothing.

Many writers just write about the human experience.  The New York Times best-seller list is fill of these author’s works.

Many others write about their visions of the spiritual world and work with mostly immaculate ideas.

Both have their relevance and necessity.

I choose to work the middle ground.  It is my interest to both discover and then provide a bridge from one world to the next.  No matter how lofty my thought, no matter how impeccably I sometimes see the pure, spiritual Peter Link, I still find myself under the covers in bed the next morning waking up to life on Planet Earth.  As long as I keep doing this, I’m going to keep trying to find that bridge – and I’m going to keep writing about it.

And so my songs do not illuminate only pure and perfect worlds.  I write about the obstacles that we all face in getting there.  I try to write about the human condition approaching the divine.  That’s what fascinates me because that’s where I’m at.  I sometimes sense the divine in my life; I am sometimes touched by the divine, but I just don’t live there consistently quite yet.  After all, I live in New York City, two blocks from Times Square – a very complex and wide variety of existence.

I also live in my studio, in a most wondrously creative world surrounded by complex material technology that helps me immeasurably to express my thoughts, discoveries and feelings.  It is definitely a mixture of the material and the spiritual and in every working hour I’m looking for that bridge.  There are rough moments when I think I’m running out of time.  And then there are timeless moments when there is no time and I’m lost (strange word) in the wondrous world of creativity.

I like to tell the truth as I see it.  It’s my particular corner on life.  Perhaps it can illuminate a thought or two for you?  Perhaps it will ruffle your feathers.

And make you think …

I just wrote a 4 part blog series commemorating the life of my recently deceased older brother.  In it, I spoke of many childhood and adult stories that brought the best of him to light.  I also spent a paragraph discussing a problem that we had between us that separated us for a decade or so.  This problem was resolved in perfect healing and we both ended up much the better for it.  We even discussed the problem years later and came to a clear resolution of our faults.

One family member seriously objected to my bringing up anything negative about my brother.  I understand their desire to protect his good name.  But he was human – just like me.  And eventually in this instance he bridged the gap between his humanity and his spirituality and rose above his humanity in a most successful way.  I told the story like it was.  It was a story of healing.

It’s the way I like to write my songs.  Coming from the theater, I recognize the power of drama.  When I choose a subject to discuss in a song, I always look for the obstacle – what creates the push and pull – especially in an inspirational song.  Without an obstacle there is no drama.

I believe there must be a story in everything I write.  Without a story of some form, I believe one loses quickly the interest of one’s audience.  I used to direct speech makers for a living.  I would always tell them, “If, during your speech, you look out at your audience and see their eyes glossing over or heads starting to bob in sleep, or begin to hear a lot of coughing from your audience, just pause for 4 beats and then say, ‘Once upon a time …’”

You’ll see those heads snap up, the room will go quiet.

From childhood we’ve all learned to love stories.  Those immortal words, “Once upon a time …” will wake ‘em up and grab their attention every time.  Here comes a story!  Oh goody!!

Jesus told stories in order to make his points.  So does Obama.  His acceptance speech last night was riddled with them.  The Beatles told stories – however obtuse.  But we all sat around and tried to figure them out.  Neil Simon, the most commercially successful playwright in the history of the theater, is a funny man, but his humor rides on the back of great stories.  Shakespeare told great stories that have become the fabric for all drama.

Stories, themselves, are bridges between ideas.  Want to get an idea across?  Connect the distance between you and your audience with a story that drives home the point of the idea.

Having trouble getting that great idea across to your boss?  Paraphrase the concept with a good metaphor – a story – and you’ll see the light bulb light up in his head.

Want to break the ice on that first date?  Tell him or her a great story and have a couple of others waiting in reserve.  You’ll fall in love.  It happened to me.

So I believe in stories in the building of my bridges.  That’s what testimonies in church are – stories of how healing was accomplished.

The trouble is that much of the human language was not invented to discuss the spiritual world.  Sometimes there just aren’t the words.  In those cases the metaphors are used.  “The morning dawned …”  “The light bulb went on …”  “God spoke to me …”

These human notions explain the divine in human terms so that we can cross that bridge together.  “There appeared a stone in the road …”  The obstacle.  The greater the obstacle, (the greater the stone); the greater the healing.

So I’m going to go on building my bridges and telling my stories and trying to leap tall buildings.  To my family I apologize for telling it like it is or was.  I guess you’ll have to take me as I am.  It’s what I do.

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