I was strolling through Nashville’s Centennial Park and, when I crossed a small bridge that’s mostly just decorative, I looked down and saw this:
There were locks on the other side too and I don’t know why I didn’t take more pictures of them. Maybe it was because this really caught my attention:
And here’s where my inner art critic comes out because I thought whoever did this, and it may have been several people, was wonderful. It’s such a simple, brilliant idea, and I don’t know if the person or persons responsible meant it to have any deeper meaning but it seems like this was symbolic of someone letting go of something that was holding them back, something that had them metaphorically locked in. By taking an actual lock and leaving it behind they were metaphorically freeing themselves.
There’s a lot of cultural history in such an act. Writing down something you want to rid yourself of and burning the paper is a common practice, as is imbuing an object with the idea of something then destroying the object. And, you know, scapegoats were once actual goats.
Not to get too far afield with this idea but it also reminded me of the cure for warts in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as described by Huck himself:
You take and split the bean, and cut the wart so as to get some blood, and then you put the blood on one piece of the bean and take and dig a hole and bury it ’bout midnight at the crossroads in the dark of the moon, and then you burn up the rest of the bean. You see that piece that’s got the blood on it will keep drawing and drawing, trying to fetch the other piece to it, and so that helps the blood to draw the wart, and pretty soon off she comes.
I don’t know if leaving a lock behind really did work for anyone who did it. I hope so. It sure made me happy.
What’s notable is that there are three locks visible. So there must be a lot more people getting rid of loads from their shoulders.
Yes, there are three locks visible, and there were some on the other side of the bridge too. I should have gotten a picture of the whole bridge but there were people around. Anyway I chose to focus on that one lock because the addition of the word “Happy” just seemed to sum up the spirit of the whole thing.
ponte milvio a roma, italians do it best.
Goodness, the Italians really do. That’s quite an amazing tradition. Thank you for sharing that!
I love the symbolism here—locking in happiness. In other places, locks are attached to bridges and fences by lovers. Maybe that’s why the person is happy!
I was unaware of the tradition of lovers attaching locks to bridges and fences but it really is lovely symbolism. Maybe that was what led to the locks being placed on the Centennial Park bridge too and I just didn’t realize it. It is a very popular spot for weddings so it would make sense that lovers perform the tradition there.
I love this, Christopher. I love the idea of a burning, a letting go, a shedding. A very cool find on your walk through the park!
We all need a way to let go of what holds us back, even if it’s just symbolic. I’m so glad you like this!
This post made me happy too, Chris. Thanks for leaving it here for us.
Your comments always make me happy, Ann, and I’m glad you leave them here.