Bridge to the unknown

We have no good reasons to turn away from this reality. Not knowing what our world will be in 6 months from now, whether our loved ones will be physically present with us, whether our work and our joys will be present for us, takes a toll on our wellbeing. Anxiety and depression, emotional realities of our age, feed in this fog. The more so when we cannot face the darkest possibilities.

Perhaps you have loved ones that you cannot see. And perhaps you cannot know if you will see them again. Not knowing can be harder than the darkest outcome. John Keats touched this agony when he coined the term, "negative capabilities". It is, in short, the ability to both not know, and yet proceed.

Glib as it may seem, bridge has something to teach us about this feeling state. In its simplest form, taking a finesse is exactly this. We take an action (play a card), which in its darkest outcome, will end that card's potential. But we play it because doing so keeps alive all the possible outcomes, good ones included. We give ourselves a chance. If we did this with anxiety about the dark timeline, the possibility of failure, we would not keep our sanity. Our emotional health cannot withstand concern for all the possible failures contained within one hand of bridge.

Instead, we look at as many of the hand's story-lines as our analytic minds will allow, and we choose a path. In the anlysis, we lean into not knowing. Yes, we consider grim fates (failures), but we are not wounded by them in our consideration. We take the calculus to its end. And then we act according to our calculations.

Two fine things happen then. If we succeed, we give ourselves due reward. And if we fail, we know that reality could not have been otherwise. We learn to forgive ourselves through the knowledge born from our negative capabilities.

Bridge can feel like a treacherous swamp, seething with danger, or it can be a crystal pool, a safe playground to train our cognition. As teachers of the game, we understand this dilemma. We are here to guide you in this emotional maze, as much as we with the techniques you are learning to master.

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