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Bill WhiteBill White
A blog about mental and emotional health

Lessons Learned: Like Bridges Burned?

Bill White Updated: Oct 5th 2010

When was the last time you learned a lesson? I'm talkin' a lesson that turned your life around. Well, I did over the past three months; and I'd like to share it with you.

plant growing in abandoned buildingBut first - some background on the title. I find Dan Fogelberg's 1977 CD, Nether Lands, magical. And the track, "Lessons Learned," is one of my favorites. Check-out the chorus...

Lessons learned are like bridges burned,
You only need to cross them but once.
Is the knowledge gained worth the price of the pain?
Are the spoils worth the cost of the hunt?

By the way, Dan Fogelberg succumbed to prostate cancer in December of 2007. He was only 56. The advocacy work continues on his website,

So now to my lesson learned (the bridge being burned)…

I lost my full-time job this past July. The fact that the work had gotten old, and it was really time for a change, is irrelevant. It was a job; and in these financial times, that's a valuable commodity.

Needless to say, the past three months have been a ride. Perhaps some of you can relate.

About a month ago I sold my car, planning to catch-up on child support and use the remaining sum to buy a clunker.

After spending hours - days - on Craigslist, and numerous phone conversations and emails, I found a car and seller with whom I was comfortable.

So I bought his car and was delighted to be returning to a state of normalcy. But by the time I'd arrived home I'd restarted it six times, including two to get it into the garage.

I'd been scammed; and sold the car to a wholesaler the next day, taking a nasty financial hit.

So I was relegated to more isolation while I banged away on Careerbuilder, walked to the store, and extinguished assorted financial and personal fires.

Cue the lesson...

Through it all, I actually learned several lessons; however, I want to share the most important…

I love life!

Well, I certainly wasn't loving the life I was living. But the past three months led me to love the life I deeply missed. The life I'd obviously taken for granted.

And just what did I miss? To name but a few things… Not being able to call my daughter at a moment's notice to see if she wants to get some driving hours in for her license. Not being able to put together a care package and send it to my college freshman son. Not being able to fully enjoy the transition from summer to autumn. Not being able to interact with others.

I'm telling you, I feel a lump in my throat just writing about it.

But coming to know I love life isn't enough. That was only the potential lesson learned knocking on the door.

The lesson was truly learned when the light went on, I drafted a plan of action, and began to proactively work it - swearing to never go back. And it was crucial to take full responsibility for my circumstances.

That's how we ensure the lesson is learned. And the bridge, indeed, crossed but once.

Fogelberg's chorus, once more…

Lessons learned are like bridges burned,
You only need to cross them but once.
Is the knowledge gained worth the price of the pain?
Are the spoils worth the cost of the hunt?

Yes, and yes!

Bill White

After enduring decades of anxiety, depression, and alcoholism; Bill made it out of the woods. He found his lifes passion along the way, earned his counseling credentials, and is ready to lend a hand. Visit his blog at, and you can contact Bill at

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Thank You... - Bill White - Oct 15th 2010

All is on the mend!!!

I live, I learn - Lessons - Oct 6th 2010

 It was a Fogelberg song from that same 1977 album that helped me learn some lessons during my first real relationship and breakup of same.  I learned to appreciate both that person coming into my life when I needed it and also his leaving.  He shored my ego and I thought I had none without him.   I had to learn to be independent of him. Hope all is going well for you now.

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