The Drawbridge

by Blakeney Schick

When I was a little kid, my family did our big weekly shopping at the Pathmark along the Gowanus Canal. The supermarket’s parking lot is right along the canal and on the other side is a cement mixing plant. If I were lucky, the Hamilton Avenue drawbridge would go up while we were there, and I would get to watch the whole long process with wonder.

First, the gates with flashing lights descended over the lanes of traffic in both directions. There was a long pause before the bridge started to lift. Eventually I got to see the immense beams of steel that made up the underbelly of the bridge. And then came my favorite part — seeing the boat that had set this whole process in motion. Usually it was a little tug boat, sometimes with a long barge. But taking the drawbridge up was the only way to let any boat through. Then the drawbridge went back down, the gates blocking traffic lifted, and in less than a minute it looked as if nothing had happened. It was, by far, the coolest thing that could happen at the Gowanus Pathmark on a Friday night in the 1980’s.

This summer and fall, I’ve been stopped in my tracks twice by the Gowanus Canal drawbridges. Instead of sitting in a car alongside the canal, though, I was trying to cross the bridge. Both times, I felt a surge of frustration the gates with flashing lights descended because getting the massive drawbridge up and then down was an unforeseen delay in my closely planned schedule. But, with a boat needing to get through, there was nothing else I could do but sit and watch the process that fascinated me as a kid.

Dealing with change can often feel to me like the drawbridge going up. Whether I’ve seen it coming or I’ve been blindsided, whether I’ve been hoping for it or dreading it, change can seem like a major disruption to move the structure of my life to make room for something new and often unexpected. The effort can make me impatient, frustrated, or anxious. Whether it seems good or bad, big or small, that process of adjustment never seems to happen on my schedule and it never leaves things exactly as they were before.

But no matter how I’ve felt about change, I’ve always had to let it happen. There has been no choice. Just as the drawbridge is designed to go up and down, we are actually designed for change, however messy it can get and however long it takes. I have often been frustrated by how change can foil my plans. But every once in a while, I’ve sat and looked in wonder at how, sometimes, so much has to move to let something — big or small — through.

Blakeney Schick is a public radio producer who follows events and elections. She started going to yoga 8 years ago in the hopes that it would help her stand up straighter. It has. But she’s stayed on the mat because yoga’s also made her stronger in every possible way. Blakeney found her way to Mala in late 2007, and finished Mala’s 200-hour teacher training in 2012. She is also a regular contributor to the Mala Yoga blog.


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