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On The Seven Mile Bridge


by: Mary Beth Ellis
Jimmy Buffett built an empire on a single four-minute song. After his breakthrough “Margartiaville” became a hit in 1977, he sustained a concert-laden career which has since expanded into hotels, blenders, candle scents, key lime pie filling, and even a senior citizen’s village in Florida. Everyone, it seems, wants to buy into a lifestyle of swinging on a hammock between two palm trees, frozen drink in hand. The song’s origin and Buffett’s own career, however, are the result of anything but relaxation. Already a shrewd businessman as a journeyman singer, Buffett began writing the song in Texas and halted it mid-lyric to drive to Key West, FL, best known as the southernmost point of the United States. As Buffett neared the island, however, he was stuck in traffic. An accident on the Seven Mile Bridge, the only to and from the mainland by vehicle, prevented anyone from moving. With the Gulf of Mexico to his right and the Atlantic Ocean to his left, Jimmy Buffett was trapped in his truck. With nowhere to go, Buffett might have taken a nap. He might have stared into the water or tried to chat up some of the ladies trapped in line around him. But instead, Buffett fished out his notes and his pencil and started completing verses. By the time the jam cleared, he had in his hands the rest of an astonishingly successful career. What if he had taken that nap instead? Lent can seem a fallow time, with the ordinary Mass omitting certain elements, catechumens counting down the final days until they join as at the Lord’s table, and chocolate-starved, fasting parishioners working their way through penance. But this is not merely a time of waiting and holding. It’s fertile soil—a time underground, perhaps, but one that might be spent in generation, in bringing the essential nutrients of faith into our souls. Don’t allow the outward somberness of Lent blot out the view of the empty tomb which await us. We can mark this time staring out the window, or we can create.
Photo:  Wikipedia Commons, Phil Hollman from London, UK (Road to Nowhere) Wikimedia Commons
Proud aunt and godmother Mary Beth Ellis is a freelance writer and college instructor.