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On Bridges and Montreal

Lachine canal bridge, Montreal

Montreal is a bridge city.

Many people here are evolving, transient…working bridge jobs, living bridge lives, moving at that particular rhythm that carries a person from one major phase to the next. There’s a feeling of groundlessness that comes with this rhythm – a waiting, a searching, a feeling of hovering in the unknown.
Montreal railway bridge reflections, Lachine CanalPeople who don’t already have roots here who want to feel the ground under their feet don’t often last in Montreal. They move to other cities with more vibrant economies, more promising job markets, more people who have made lives with deeper roots.

And here, in the meantime, so many of us stand on our respective bridges. Sometimes we look back in wonder at where we begun, sometimes there’s grief in the distance we’ve travelled over what we’ve left behind. Sometimes we drag our feet, apprehensive about what lies on the other side, and sometimes we charge towards the end of the bridge with optimistic determination.

Lachine canal bridge with Montreal skylineLately I’ve had a thing with bridges. One of my favorite morning rituals is running across the Jacques Cartier bridge and back. The views of the city, the breeze, and the movement of the traffic induce euphoria.

At night I experience a different side of bridges. As soon as I clock out of my retail job, I get on my bike and coast through downtown, along the water. It’s many hours past rush hour and I am full of nervous energy, feeling drained yet stimulated after spending the last five hours selling natural beauty products in my second language. The streets are quiet and my route carries me across and under all kinds of different bridges.

The dynamic movement of the Jacques Cartier bridge in the morning is replaced with a stillness that invites reflection. With the Jacques Cartier bridge, the feeling of groundlessness brings excitment – there is movement everywhere and a feeling of freedom and expansion prevails. At night, however, the groundlessness that crossing a canal bridge or riding under a decaying overpass brings is accompanied by silence and darkness. This dark silence creates space for doubts, fears, dreams, inspiration, whatever is going to surface in the moment.

Montreal overpass graffiti, Lachine Canal

The thing is, you can’t have one bridge energy without the other – the inspiration, movement and freedom that comes with transitions is inevitably accompanied by the stillness that sometimes breeds stagnation, other times powerful introspection and major growth. It is the interconnectedness of these seemingly opposing energies that gives bridges their magic and Montreal so much of its soul.





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