Groundation:’Upon the Bridge’ – The Story

 Lançado no passado dia 18 de Outubro, “Upon the Bridge” é o mais recente álbum dos norte-americanos Groundation. Possivelmente o grupo que melhor se define como sinónimo do roots revivalista, os Groundation atingem, neste novo registo, mais um patamar da viagem musical e espiritual a que se entregam no seu trabalho. Sempre a inovar, preservar e reconstruir, desta feita a originalidade surpreende não só a nível musical e lírico mas também através da inclusão de um curto conto, que nos transporta por palavras para os conceitos associados a “Upon the Bridge”. Para apreciar, interiorizar e meditar…

 “I man just chanting for your crisis, playing music for no prizes.” – Groundation(“Sleeping Bag-O-Wire”) 

Upon the Bridge

I had been walking for what seemed an eternity before finally seeing the Bridge ahead of me. People once said this great Bridge crossed a fresh water spring, but it seemed then to stretch lonely over a dry canyon. Perhaps the tick evening fog hid the water below. I was exhausted as the sun set in front of me, which meant the Gate was almost directly behind me, as I was told it should always be. At that moment I took pride in having made it so far.

As I headed down to the foot of the Bridge, the cold of the evening set in. In the distance, the Crow who dwelled at the entrance to the Bridge called out. It was there, at the base of an old oak tree, I slept the night.

I awoke suddenly at first light and again heard the call of the Crow. As I walked to the base of the Bridge, enjoying the cool morning mist, a voice surprised me.

I´ve never stepped on this or any other bridge before in my life”, he said. The man was blind.

I´m here alone begging for my morning food” He was a holy man, a monk from the hills. A thick layer of ash covered his face and masked his age.

I told him about my journey and it interested him that I was a sojourner. “You are part of a dying breed”, he said.

When I asked him what he did all day, he replied that this was his work-to counsel with those who attempt the crossing.

I looked out to the great Bridge that stretched before me.

Ah, the Bridge”, he said. “That is dangerous. I have often wondered why anyone would attempt to travel that barrier. The risks are many”

As he spoked, a large crow appeared and perched on the Monk’s shoulder. Looking at the Crow the monk said “Some see the Crow as a bird of hate…I know it to be a bird of Love. So too must you understand not everything here can be seen with the eyes.”

He smiled at me as I started my way on the bridge. “Good Luck”, I heard him call to me.

There was something in the breeze that morning, a certain crispness to the air.

The bridge was strong and sturdy, made from wood that while ancient appeared to never have aged. My journey was one of desertion. It was also a quest for truth; a quest for answers. I left many behind for this search.

As the hours crept by it grew hotter and I hadn’t passed a single person since I started on the Bridge. Finally, in the late afternoon sun I saw a creeping figure of a man coming toward me. I could barley make out his harsh mumble.

Water”, he whispered.

Then I realized I too had none.

Just as I was about to tell him, a huge crack of lightning tore through the aging sky and the heavens opened to deliver a heavy downpour. I took out my canteen and began to collect the water as I walked towards the man.

I was told that there was a fresh water spring that flowed under this Bridge”, I said as I approached.

That must have been years ago”, he said crouching low taking a huge gulp from a puddle. “There is absolutely no water under this bridge”.

I could see then that he had been travelling a long time and was broken and weak. “How long is the journey?” I asked. “How long to get to the other side?”

It’s hopeless…it’s all completely hopeless. It is too far and there is no solid land on the other side”, he said and slowly and painfully he made his way by me.

I called out to him, “What about crossing the Bridge? You’ve made it this far, how can you turn back now?” There was no reply, only the fading shadow of his exit. With him went the rain and the sun once again emerged.

Dusk slowly approached as I continued my journey. The Bridge went on and on. It had been so long since I first started out that I should have been thirsty and hungry, but I felt nothing. All I wanted was to carry on. After a full day of walking the end of the bridge was not yet in sight.

At some point I realized it had become very cold. The sky turned dark, totally dark as if night had taken over long ago. The air was freezing and suddenly it began to snow.

The drop in temperature was so extreme that my body tightened with freezing sweat. That´s when exhaustion finally overtook me.

Suddenly, without warning, like turning on a light in a dark room, the sun rose high and bright. I felt myself slowly falling when all of a sudden a hand lifted me to my feet.

Before me stood an old man covered from head to toe in long layers of white cloth. He was supporting me with a single hand.

Have you seen the other side?” I asked desperately. ”Have you been to the other side?”

That is where I am coming from”, he replied.

But the Bridge is so long and earlier I met a man who never made it across, never made the other side”.

He must have lost the way”, the old man replied.

How could one lose their way on the Bridge? It didn’t make sense, there were so many questions.

As if answering my thoughts the man said “Remember, nothing upon the Bridge is what it seems”.

We sat down and I took a sip from my canteen. The old man began to speak again.

Here on this Bridge one can feel a special energy, one can appreciate the power of free will. The sun may set, the moon may rise, and hurricanes may blow, all according to the energy here. This Bridge was built as a union between two points. The people who built it lived many thousands of years ago and it is said that within three generations they were all gone. Some say they were wiped out by a great catastrophe but there is a whisper that says they ascended beyond our physical world. The modern people who have settled here, my people, have placed special guardians on the bridge to monitor who comes and goes, to help balance its energy”.

His piercing eyes slowly focused on the very center of my body.

Your necklace, the stone, I know it. Where does it come from?”He asked.

I looked at the weathered blue-gray rock that hung loosely from my neck. “It is a stone from the Waterfall near my home”. I said.

You come a long way”.He replied

The old man was very wise and had traveled extensively throughout the region. As he spoke the sun began to quickly set over his right shoulder and the Gate was once again behind me. We sat quietly watching as the sky darken into night.

He took a sip from my canteen, and it was then I realized that he was traveling with no bags, no food, no water. I looked to him questionably and he softly smiled and said,

I have no need for such things. My love I bring. My heart and soul too. That is all one needs for life’s journey”.

At that moment a great beam of light pierced the dark Eastern sky and I squinted as the sun crept its way up the horizon. This old man before me was a protector of the energy of the Bridge, a wise guardian, whose will could influence the light and darkness.

It was then that I began to understand my journey.

Despite my disillusion, my thinking was correct.

We must use our energy to come together, to rally the people, to evolve intelligently”. I said

“This is true”, he replied, “but we must never do so with violence”.

When we speak of evolution”, he continued, “We must be sure to evolve in a positive direction. You and the coming generations must shake off this warrior mentality. You must find answers in peaceful ways and in ways that demonstrate mutual love and respect”.

We sat for a moment in silent reflection.

What about those who seem to negatively influence life?” I asked.

What is always present in life is energy, both positive and negative. This energy is free and it flows through all. As I love life and all that dwells here so too do I love hate, envy, greed, and all aspects of negative, as they are also a part of life. Just leave them to face their wrongs and they will perish.”

I sat for a moment staring into his eyes, trying to understand the full meaning of everything he said.

Before you become overwhelmed by these thoughts, remember that some things become clear only through reflection and the passing of time. You must be strong in your beliefs, focused in your actions, and patient fore change to take place”

We sat for a moment in silence until he concluded, “We are quickly approaching the age of non-existence. We true lovers of life seek to preserve and protect it. And so I am here on this Bridge giving guidance to those brave enough to attempt the journey. At this moment you have two choices, you can turn back and return to those things you know, or you can travel on and learn what is on the other side”.

As we stood to leave I said,

I wonder if i´ll ever reach the solid ground on the other side”.

His warm smile instantly set my thoughts at peace. I turned slowly towards the path in front of me and began my journey again. A warm breeze touched my face as the words “you will make it” echoed on my mind.

As day slowly surrendered to night I continued to travel alone. Beneath me the wood bridge felt solid. The sound of my footsteps became my meditation and the longer I walked the deeper I ventured into myself. When, I finally took note of my surroundings night had come and the moon hung full in an otherwise empty sky. For many more hours I traveled in the darkness until from the deep fog a cloaked figure quickly approached. “Any word from the other side?” I asked, but the figure vanished back into darkness.

I found it odd that on a night like this, with few other travelers anyone would ignore a stranger on this bridge. At first, I blamed it on the night shadows – maybe he hadn’t seen me – but then I remembered clearly, for one distinct moment, that our eyes had met. I continued to wonder about this as I moved slowly forward. Step by step, one foot and then another. The rhythm of my walking again put me into a trance. Slowly and as time went by I realized that the sound of my footsteps had somehow changed. They were louder yet sounded empty. The moon had long ago slipped behind a night cloud and I paused to try to bring my surroundings into focus. A tick darkness encompassed me and I began to feel a great fear. As I touched the side of the Bridge it felt old and firm. Just then a flash from the sky illuminated my surroundings for a moment. And I discovered the wooden Bridge had become metal and steel. It arched above me and there were thick cables wound together to keep it suspended. As the flash of light faded, I looked down below the Bridge and could almost make out what appeared to be a sea of faces. Were they the faces of those who had attempted the journey before me and failed? My feeling of fear intensified.

I stood still, almost paralyzed wondering were I was headed. It was impossible- there must have been a fork. The Bridge must have divided. I contemplated turning back when I felt something deep inside of me. It was a slow rumble that seemed to be growing louder by the second. The rhythmic thunder continued, only now a new rumble was building on top of it. It was coming from behind me and sounded like twisting metal. A split second later I came to realize that the frame of the Bridge was slowly buckling- the entire structure was collapsing. I began running with all my strength as the Bridge crumbled under my feet.

Amazingly, through the noise I heard the sharp cry of a mountain swallow ans somehow I knew solid land was near. I raced towards what I knew was the end of the bridge and leaned forward to further my momentum until I was teetering and then falling the web of the bridge’s skeleton. Below me through the dust and rubble I could make out strange, chained figures. Above me, I saw the mountain swallow not far from its home. At the last moment, I jumped and threw myself with all my strength towards the other side.

Now as I sit here on solid ground I know I made the right choice and I wonder about those I passed and hope they made it to safety. I have no idea where the path in front of me leads or if I will ever return from where I came. All I am sure of is I have crossed the Bridge, the Gate is behind me and my journey is far from over.

(from inlay “Upon the Bridge”)


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