Bridging the Shift
Recently I watched a program on building a bridge. It seems they were trying to build it according to the specifications of an old picture. It was an arched design with woven wooden poles that afforded enough height for boats to go under it and an incline suitable for pedestrians to cross over. First these arch-itects in America played around on computers with the design and built a small replica. They planned on building the bridge in two halves, each one constructed on a bank and then lifted up to fit together. They then met up with the local team in the foreign country and showed them their ideas.

The first cog in their plans was that the local experts did not think there was enough room on each bank for construction. I thought this fact could have been known prior to their arrival. Prior even to their design idea. Isn’t that like designing a building without knowing the size of the lot its to be on? Anyway, so then it had to be redesigned. After it was redesigned one of the foreign arch-itects said he had a surprise. He took the two teams (on what was to be the first of many side trips) to a standing bridge that was built by the same design. Seems this bridge arch-itect didn’t know that this particular type of bridge already existed in his own country. So then they went back to redesign yet again. This redesign involved using bamboo, hence another trip to see how bamboo grew, how it was harvested and its many applications. What they needed specifically was a thin rope made from it. This involved them learning about very thick ropes, different ways of braiding it and the different uses for it. Then they learned about thin ropes. The next hurdle was that they wanted to test it’s strength. Apparently, even though they’d been making and using these ropes for thousands of years, no one knew if they were strong or not. So they built a small table top model and tested it. Then a larger one. Yes, the rope was strong. Back to the town of the construction site they all went and began again.

Next came the "discovery" of the foundation. This also involved going to different towns to view bridges, different sized models and testing them. Actually this one also involved making a rather large model in the town and demonstrating how if it didn’t have a strong support it would fall down. Glad they figured that out. This part also included many trips to fancy restaurants to learn first hand how the people lived; that color and flavor were important aspects to them.

This whole story seemed ridiculous to me and quite a waste of time and money. I thought they could have known the space they were to work with before they began. And all the other bridges they viewed, if they didn’t think photos would be adequate, they could have at least saw them all beforehand rather than creating a new design after each trip. And why all the investigation of thick ropes when they needed a thin one? And what made them think that the rope being used for one day on a model would prove what ropes being used for centuries hadn't? I really don’t get what the meals at fancy restaurants had to do with it at all, other than they wanted to eat.

All this reminded me of another thing that transpired earlier in my week. They are resurfacing one of the roads here and my friend commented that the old one hadn’t seemed in bad shape and didn’t seem to need resurfacing. I countered with maybe some people just like building roads. This may sound like a flippant remark but I strongly suspect that after this shift in consciousness this will be the only reason why something is done - because someone likes doing it. Which brings me back to the bridge. These arch-itects went about their business in the most roundabout manner I could imagine, tweaking every one of my beliefs in efficiency along the way, and yet they truly enjoyed building their bridge. I also suspect that after this shift efficiency will simply be another choice of experience and not the most efficient and therefore better method. At the conclusion of the documentary one of the arch-itects said that bridges have long been designs that bring people together. I guess they bring ideas together too.

If you enjoy these, check out my Adventures in Consciousness, brief musings inspired by daily life.

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