When I finally saw Nashville’s John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge from the rooftop of Acme Fee & Seed, it looked too big and uncrossable for me.
Walking over it (and back) was on my list of to dos during my visit – right up there with sampling country music, biscuits, and fried chicken – but my heart sank when I saw it. I don’t know why I wanted to do the thing I’m most afraid of.
Maybe the challenge of it. Maybe to feel the fear. Maybe because I’m trying to figure out why getting across bridges is so hard for me. Wikipedia says it’s one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world at 3,150 feet.
And so we started the walk over. The bridge’s approach is wide with buildings on either side which gave me a sense of security. An old brick building a few stories high captured my attention where pigeons perched and a small sapling grew on a chimney. Maybe my brain knows how to distract and protect me.
Being with friends helped. We walked slowly and drifted apart and joined back up and took pictures. Once past the approach, the bridge flattens out and there was lots to distract me. Ahead was Nissan Stadium where the Tennessee Titans play, behind me the cityscape, above the bridge’s criss-crossing steel girders, below me the Cumberland River, to my right a bridge and to my left downtown and more bridges.
At the halfway point, my heart fluttered – it knew I was becoming afraid before my brain did. I was starting to think about where I was – above the earth and water standing on a slim piece of concrete. I stopped thinking and kept moving.
I made it across and back.
It didn’t seem like much of an accomplishment because it seemed too easy.
Here’s why I think that was so.
- The bridge isn’t that high.
- It doesn’t have an apex.
- It was quiet – no cars – only pedestrians and bicyclists.
- I also didn’t get close to the railing or step out onto the outcropping.
- Most importantly – with all the city buildings and structures feeling close by I didn’t feel suspended in space with no idea where I was as I do on bridges like the Delaware Memorial or the Throgs Neck and Whitestone.
I was glad I left Nashville doing everything I wanted to do…with plenty left to do another time.