Simplicity in a Complex World

The world is full of highly complex and challenging issues ~ wars, starvation, greed, absolute poverty, inequality, quiet desperation, physical agony, homelessness, hopelessness …..

I often think that there is far too much of an ‘I’m alright, Jack,’ attitude out there and that there is a ridiculous level of crazy positivity knocking around, which essentially acts as  blindfolds and earplugs to the hurt that is just around the corner, if even that far away from any of us.

I really worry about the message that the massive emphasis on positivity sends out. In short, I feel that stuff like: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’ essentially makes people who are in horrible situations feel like it’s their fault for not being able to get out quagmires that would be overwhelming to absolutely anyone.

Some people, though, have a way of doing very simple things that reveal all that could be great in a world that often seems to be losing its way and imploding into ‘I’ ‘I’ ‘I-ness.’

Here’s one example of such simplicity which I happened upon, as I was out and about the other day here in Co. Waterford:

Thoughfulness ~ Step at a Time



The Comment that Stunned Me

Stunning Tramore
Stunning Tramore

I treasure every single comment that I receive here on Social Bridge. Comments and commenting are a key part of blogging ~ arguably as important as the posts, though the posts are required to generate the comments.

As you probably know, if you’re a regular, I sometimes get doubts about the concept of social bridges. I thought that the idea was going to set the world alight when I first dreamt it up towards the end of 2010 and I mean bring about the most incredible changes and connections at all levels from global violence to personal stuff.

I’ve gained hugely at a personal level from the connections and friendships that I’ve built through the blog and I am eternally grateful for that. But, there’s always the burning urge to be able to make an impact at a broader level.

I have been thinking about this a good deal of late and, even wondered about changing the name of the blog, but then a comment arrived from Phil at Aging Indiana. Phil is a guy I’ve never met in person but I feel I know him well because of our shared interest in ageing.

Here’s the comment he wrote on my post:  Dear Dad … Giving a Thank You Letter as a Christmas Present to an Elderly Parent. (It was interesting that this was the post he chose on which to leave his note!)

Jean. I had a dream the other night and you were a primary school teacher showing a picture of two children arguing to another small child. You asked the child “What do they need”? The child answered “A bridge. Not a real one. A social bridge.”

This was like an early Christmas present to me as it made me think that maybe, just maybe, the notion of social bridges is penetrating people’s consciousness at all sorts of different levels.

I’d love to think so, anyway

Please tell me about any comments you’ve received that have gone to the very heart of what you feel you’re about. 

Photographic Moments

Ballyscanlon Lake, Co. Waterford
Ballyscanlon Lake, Co. Waterford

We do not remember days, we remember moments.                   (Cesare Pavese)

This photograph of Ballyscanlon Lake has lived on my computer for almost five years now and I remember the moment I took it as if it were now.

It was back in late September 2010, just a few weeks after my father died and I followed the sunset out to Ballyscanlon Lake. I remember nothing of the day involved but will never forget the peace and solitude that I experienced watching the sun setting on that still evening when the air was full of fragrance after rain.

Ballyscanlon was a favourite haunt of Dad’s and I had such a strong sense that night of his presence there with me.

It never ceases to amaze me how particular photographs can bridge time and peel back layer after layer of thought, emotion and experience.

Do YOU have special photographs that are like bridges to precious moments?

Blog Names

Newtown Wood, Tramore, Co. Waterford

I’m absolutely fascinated by the names of blogs must confess that I can’t resist having a look at those that tickle my imagination.

I spent forever coming up with the name Social Bridge as I wanted to be just that: a connector, a linker. To tell the truth, I thought the concept of social bridge would take off like wild fire and get the whole world thinking along the same lines as me about people, places, events that have been, and continue to be, bridges in both public and personal life.

(The latest social bridge I was talking to was the ‘lolly pop lady’ who guides the small school kids across the road just round the corner from us. She always has a big smile and told me the other day that she reckons she gets more hugs than anyone else in Tramore. I stood there and witnessed quite a few and suspect she is probably right.)

Even though I’ve been disappointed, I still love the idea of social bridges and cling to the hope that its power as a concept will catch on and change the world.

The  Viaduct, Drogheda, Co. Louth
The Viaduct, Drogheda, Co. Louth Photo: Frank Tubridy

Today, September 30th, feels like a social bridge to me as we cross into October. September 2014 will never be here again; we had our chances with it and our experiences of it.

Crossing into October, I look forward to Autumn tints, chestnuts, lighting the fire, my birthday, seizing as many opportunities as I can to swim in the sea, planting bulbs that will present the first signs of Spring and identifying,  seeing, hearing about and  meeting all kinds of social bridges along the way.

So here’s to social bridges and their potential as we step into a new month and a whole new season!

The Music of The Bridge ~ Sunday Senses

Newtown Wood, Tramore, Co. Waterford
Newtown Wood, Tramore, Co. Waterford

Bridges are more than special to me ~ why else would I call this blog  Social Bridge?

Today I would like to bring you a piece of Irish music An Droichead which is Irish for The Bridge, played by Liam O’Flynn and Mark Knopfler. I find it hauntingly beautiful and it gets me thinking of all the bridges, physical and social, that mean so much to me.

I’d love to hear about the bridges of your life, or indeed, the writings or music that you associate with them.


A Mosaic of Social Bridges ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 220

I didn’t call this blog ‘Social Bridge’ for fun. However, I think I may have been too serious about the name way back then. I have to laugh now at the extent to which Google has shown me that people think the blog may relate to bridge, the card game, played more for fun and meeting partners than anything else!

Apples in Mount Congreve Gardens, Co. Waterford
Apples in Mount Congreve Gardens, Co. Waterford

Well, I’d like to have another go at explaining what Social Bridges mean to me and I would give anything to hear about the social bridges ~ either personal or public ~ that spring to your mind.

For me, Social Bridges are people, places, ideas, events that connect people to each other or that connect aspects of  an individual’s own life.

From the very outset, the personified  and public ‘Social Bridge’ that stood out for me was Senator George Mitchell who played such a role in bringing about peace in Northern Ireland. That peace means the world to me and thousands and thousands of other people.

Senator George Mitchell Source: Wikipedia
Senator George Mitchell
Source: Wikipedia

I suppose it’s fair to say that I never stop thinking ‘social bridges’ in terms of my own life.  There are just so many that have huge significance ~ poetry, tennis, daffodils, The Bridges of Ross in Co. Clare, and tiles, yes, tiles!

I was just about to wash the tiles on our kitchen floor when I found myself thinking of the tiles I saw just last weekend in historic St. Carthage’s Cathedral in Lismore here in Co. Waterford.

St. Carthage's Cathedral, Lismore, Co. Waterford.
St. Carthage’s Cathedral, Lismore, Co. Waterford.

As I looked at the tiles in the Cathedral, I couldn’t but think of the visit I paid to my late father’s home in Kilrush, Co. Clare around this time last year.

I had long been hearing about the tiles in the house and as I sat there talking to the lovely woman who had bought the house from the family, I felt as if my feet were walking across a bridge of generations that spanned nine decades or far, far more.

The Bridges of Ross, Co. Clare.
The Bridges of Ross, Co. Clare.

Social Bridges are where people meet, be it in person, online or through the paths of time.

What, who are where are the Social Bridges that mean most to you?

The Boyne Viaduct ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 6

There are few bridges that evoke more memories for me than the Boyne Viaduct in Drogheda, Co. Louth. Just the other day,  I came across this photograph of it which was taken by my father in the 1970s when we lived in Drogheda.  The Viaduct was designed by Irish civil engineer, Sir John MacNeill, and was constructed in the 1850s. It was the seventh bridge of its kind in the world when built and considered one of the wonders of the age.

The Boyne Viaduct, Drogheda, Co. Louth
The Boyne Viaduct, Drogheda, Co. Louth

What makes the Viaduct so special for me is that it was a key part of my journey to school for five years in Drogheda. I had a grand view of this majestic bridge each day, as I cycled to and from school  ~ morning, lunchtime and evening! It was a continuing source of wonder to me all those years.

A friend of mine, Lorna, lived right beside the Viaduct and that was the meeting point for a gang of us in our grey flannel uniforms and wine cardigans as we journeyed together on our bicycles.

Waterfords of the World: The Journey Begins

The idea of building connections between all the Waterfords of the World has been on my mind for a number of months now. However, the idea truly came alive last Sunday when I had the opportunity of meeting with The First Selectman of Waterford, Connecticut, Mr. Daniel Steward to discuss it.   In Section 5 of Social Bridges,  I describe this meeting which took place as I had the honour of driving him through Waterford City and out along the Copper Coast to lovely Stradbally.