“The future enters into us,in order to transform itself through us, long before it happens.” –Goethe
The teenage years might just be the most difficult time to figure out where you are headed with your life. It sure was for me. An indifferent student, my dream of playing professional hockey was shattered when I turned sixteen. It was then that I figured out what everyone else seemed to know already: I just wasn’t good enough to get there.
Like most kids in Canada, hockey was an obsession. I played in elite minor hockey leagues, first in Ontario, then in Quebec, and I was passionate about the game. That I was a step slower and couldn’t break an egg with my shot did not interfere with my hopes. I relied on strong defensive play, and aggressiveness, and managed to earn a place on some of the best teams in my city.
Then, one day, I got it. I saw what everyone else saw. It was like a bubble popping. I continued to play until I was eighteen, but by that time, the most talented of my teammates were already in junior hockey programs that fed the NHL.
Long walks followed – a couple of years of long walks – lost in thought. I would walk for hours but always found myself drawn to a spot beneath the Galipeault Bridge that connected the western shore of the island of Montreal and Ile Perrot. The Grand Trunk Railway built that bridge, sometime in the late 1800’s.
Here I would sit and look into the darkness that shrouded my future. In those moments when I wasn’t completely bummed out, I began to notice the bridge itself, how it was constructed, and the arches that drew the eye across the water to the far shore. It was hypnotic. At the time, I was unaware that I journeyed daily to sit before a powerful metaphor for my dilemma… and my future.
The bridge, a symbol of “transition and connection,” provided a visual representation of my inner search. Bridging differences was a talent I had. I had always been “a bridge-walker” between different groups of people and was able to see the common ground that existed in seemingly disparate positions. I sought out different people from backgrounds that were unfamiliar to me. I loved living in the midst of two cultures – French and English – and felt enriched by that intermingling. Eventually, I was able to see that I had other aspirations beyond hockey, and pursued a university education in Communication Studies, which included cross-cultural communications.
It has taken me 35 years to understand what I was seeing as I looked at that bridge on the shoreline of Lac St. Louis. That image has haunted me – working on my subconscious mind until the day I made the connection to Visionmaking. The Bridge of Foresight, from current circumstances to future outcomes, had its genesis under the Galipeault Bridge.
© Patrick O’Neill 2010. All rights reserved