I was approaching the Great River Bridge, driving East on 34. The winter fog rose and spread directly above the Mississippi, obliterating all familiar markers with its hungry white haze, as if the whole world had transformed into this blank computer screen, waiting for us to create something of it. The Great River Bridge itself rose into the haze with its five lanes lifting into nothingness.
The car ahead of me disappeared. It looked like the bridge ended midair, and we would just drop off into the river, no matter how massive and secure the bridge must still be. There was that natural reactive moment of alarm, and just as quickly, the disclaimer of foolishness.
I had not planned to drive across the bridge. I was going to take the Front Street exit. But there was an appeal from the fog, just to prove that the bridge was still there. There was a temptation just to find out. Should fear, even a momentary flash of it, dictate direction? How quickly we can become disoriented, even when we think we know where we are!
Is this wide road like the one which, biblically, “leads to destruction?” Or is it the familiar structure that has proven itself by experience to be reliable, secure? How do we know that it is going to be the same this time? As the skeptic David Hume indicated, there is no provable necessary connection between what has been and what will be. There are unknowns which may change the experience, and surely eventually will change it.
Everyone else was traveling with me at speed limit, trusting the unseen. Did they too have a moment of doubt? Did they just continue on automatic pilot?
This time it was daunting enough just to take the exit. Its curve was obscured as well. Next time? Who knows? Maybe I’ll accept the invitation from the upper atmosphere. Maybe the bridge will rise above the fog. Maybe a multi-vehicle pile-up will greet me instead. Maybe….