Today, I tackled the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge once again. My goal for each week is to walk it three times weekly. To those of you who do not know, “The bicycle and pedestrian lane is 2.7 miles long (14,400 feet), measuring from
Patriots Point Road to East Bay Street. Measuring only the part that is on the bridge structure, the walkway is 2.4 miles long (12,750 feet). Most of the bridge is limited to a 4.1% maximum slope. On the Charleston side of the
main span, the long approach is a 1.8% slope. On the Mount Pleasant side, there is a section three tenths of a mile long that has a 5.6% slope.” http://www.cooperriverbridge.org/bike.shtml
The bridge opened in 2005. Almost every time I have driven across this bridge I have always said to myself, “One day, I’m going to walk that bridge…” Thanks to Weight Watchers and the new goals I have established, I am achieving that goal. I must say, as I approach the beginning of the bridge, I look ahead, noticing the steep incline. “Focus,” I tell myself. “You can do this.” There is an inner-voice inside of me saying, “Don’t you hear the traffic. Don’t you remember how frightened you are of busy roads, cars rushing by and so much traffic.” I struggle to push that inner-voice aside…not to listen to her…to be stronger…more determined…and before I know it, I continue the walk. My first goal is the first tower from Patriots Point. Accomplishing that goal, I rest…breathing in…breathing out…remembering how I must breathe so I do not have an asthma attack.
I am proud of myself for accomplishing the bridge walk. As a child, resting inside an oxygen tent, fighting another episode of asthma in the hospital, I never thought I could accomplish this task. Doctors had said that I would never be active like other children, simply because asthma had left me weak. The steep incline intimidated me at first, but I wanted to prove to myself that I can do this. Maybe I cannot run like the joggers who pass by me, but I can achieve my goals, and I have.
Today, while walking up the first incline, I noticed a woman struggling. She stopped. As I passed by her, I turned back. “Are you Okay?” Her breathing was raspy. She held on to the rail, looking down.
“I’m afraid of heights… I can’t do this. I told my daughter I couldn’t and I’m scared.”
“Where’s your daughter?”
“Up there ahead of us.”
I touched her. “It’s okay. I have a fear of traffic. I was hit by a car when I was nine-years-old. I’m horrified that a car may jump the ramp and hit me…but I can’t focus on that. I have to believe in the power of positive thinking, and I must have faith that I can do this walk.”
The woman gave me a puzzled look. “When you were hit, were you injured?”
“Definitely. The driver was a hit and run. He was a teenager. He was drunk, but when he noticed someone was writing notes about the accident, he pulled over. I guess he knew he would be caught, so he stopped then. I had a severe concussion and my brain was swollen. The doctors and police officers said I should’ve been killed…but look at me now…Here I am walking the bridge. If I can do this with my fears, so can you.”
The woman released her clutched hand from the rail. “Ok,” she said. “How do you know I can do this…that I can work past my fears…?”
“I have faith…God will guide you.”
“You don’t know me…”
“I have faith.”
I started my approach again. The woman followed me. When I topped the second tower, I saw her again, walking with her daughter. She stopped to hug me.
“Thank you,” she said. “I did it! I wouldn’t have done it without you.”
Her daughter smiled, said thank you and together, they turned to walk down the bridge.
Funny. Today was my day just to walk the bridge, only today was a new day for me to smile at someone, share a bit of courage, and a lot of faith. Every day of my life, I attempt to share a bit of kindness to others. Never did I think I would do that on the towers of the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge.
Walking down the bridge, I felt a bit wiser…a bit stronger…a bit happier with who I am. I smile at people as I pass them on the bridge. Most of them are preoccupied with cell phones, Ipods and a blank look on their faces. Today, I am thankful that although my Blackberry is inside my pocket, my Ipod is at home and I am focused on the challenge of walking the bridge…building a bridge to my health, happiness and weight loss. Much of that I give credit to Weight Watchers, but today, I give credit to the kindness of a stranger who was struggling to work past her fear…and she did it…along with me!