Doors are extremely communicative objects. As with us, much about their personalities can be learned from just a minute or two of careful observation. Notice, is it painted? What color? Is it screened? Dead bolted? Dented? Weathered? Wide open? Decorated? All of these verbs say much about the door itself, and something else, too, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
If the door sticks when you try to open it, chances are it’s not used very often. If it bounces back at you, never quite closing all the way, incessant slamming might be to blame. Or perhaps a heedless eye has neglected to mind the holding capacity. And we can empathize with the door’s unwillingness, can’t we? Oh, how many zippers and buttons alike, have met their tragic demise at the hands of these three gritted words, “It . . . still . . . fits!”
Knobs and handles can also be telling. You need only a second’s glance at your refrigerator’s handle, and immediately it’s obvious whether or not children are present in the home. They speak in silent volumes, dictating a heavy traffic flow or signaling their decrepitly obsolete status.
It must be said, however, that whether we use them many times in a day or bi-annually, all doors are crucial and necessary. But . . . I would bet not a single one of us stops to think about how many doors we enter or exit in a single day. Nor do we ever take a moment to murmur an acknowledgement of thanks as it tucks us safely inside our vehicle, shields our naked form while we attend to personal matters, renders our clutter invisible, keeps in the cold, blocks out the heat – or vice-versa. Why? Why do we overlook such a valuable commodity, expedient and necessary to nearly every human on the planet? I know I’m guilty. Don’t think much of doors? I dare you to remove one and see how long it takes before you realize your misconception. Lindsay Lohan, Freaky Friday. Anyone?
I happen to be staring at a door right now; one made from a smooth chestnut wood, speciously adorned with touches of a bucolic life. The top half boasts a vertical window, where rows of small circles have been etched into glass the color of an over ripe banana. Two decades ago, it was decorated in the arbitrary taste of a woman acquainting her home, in a salient floral panel, shapely, like a woman’s figure. The embellishments have long since passed their prime, the pattern faded and out of style, the lock and knob desiccated to a minty green; however, remnants of its once brassy elegance remain about the edges, there to be regarded and remembered. It is a humble sophistication, such is the way of elderly beauty, lovely as ever, for those who make the time to appreciate it.
I simply adore the door – Sorry. I had to. – Were it given a voice to express its personage, my guess is it would charm us with an unhurried, pleasantly raspy modulation, saying something along these lines: “They sure don’t make ‘em like they used to.”
Where is all this door talk spawning from, you ask? I’m getting there, I promise. A door can be neglected, weary, valued, shunned, submissive, guarded, stubborn, careless, temperamental, inviting. Arguably, doors are one of the more important components that assemble a house or car. We would not be wrong in claiming that they are not only useful, but indispensible. There is one door, however, that I would wager to stake my entire collection of Diana Gabaldon books on that is more important than all the rest.
I assure you, this wager is not to be scoffed at. Of my possessions, these rank up there with my memory foam pillow and bottle of Kiel’s midnight recovery oil; both essential in keeping me looking not a day over twenty. Okay . . . twenty-five.
At the discretion of the owner, this door is capable of containing and sustaining a great many things: Great ambition, great love, great hurt, great hate, great forgiveness. Buried inside us all, I believe there exists a heart door. Recently, I have taken notice of my own heart’s door, and what I found behind it was – for lack of a better word – disheartening. And like so many other doors I frequently access, but don’t acknowledge, my remiss behavior has procured consequences. Grave consequences that I expect will take years of undoing before I might consider myself cleaned out.
What are these things I found, so familiar, yet almost completely unrecognizable? Words. The irony is not lost on me. I have yet to meet someone who loves words more than me. Sometimes, I will type out a word just to look at it. I have no intention of using it to further my purpose, none at all. But it popped into my head, requesting a presence on my page and I was not going to be the sorry sot to deny the dear thing its moment. Still, I feel responsible, like I should have known of course! it would have all began with words. In my defense, it happened very early on, when I was still much too young to even notice the effect these words were having on me.
I reckon that the heart’s door works similarly to a closet door, storing and holding things until the items are either removed for use or discarded – or, are abandoned for a much longer period of time, left to collect dust in the shadows and crevices of the hopefully forgotten.
But nothing is ever truly forgotten – only pushed aside for a time.
Only now do I realize that the words spoken to me did not pass through me as air or smoke might, but were stored, packed efficiently into boxes and serried on the shelves I labeled as: “Things to believe about myself.” And I did. I believed them all. Stupid. Ugly. Selfish. Jerk. Incompetent. Lazy. Pathetic. Worthless. Fat. Even worse, these words began to breed into full-fledged sentences.
“No one will ever want you.”
“You have no purpose.”
“You will never be good enough.”
“You have let down everyone.”
These words and sentences have been trapped inside me for decades, a sadistic treasure in which I use to torment myself whenever the expectations I have of myself are not met. Somehow, I got it into my mind that I needed to be perfect. And since that day, I have not stopped trying to do so. For years, I have used those words as a driving force -- a sedulous impetus -- something to remind me that if I let up, even for one second, I would not only disappoint myself, but every single person around me. I can’t say it’s been easy -- or possible, for that matter. Perfect turns out to be a shade of blue that simply doesn’t look good on me.
Thankfully, since my childhood, many other words have come to take a place upon my shelves, thanks in two-fold to the One who has always accepted me as I am, and the one who would never wish to change me. Unfortunately, rather than a preferred replacement, these much appreciated additions have only been able to take up arms as an offense, there to offer some resistance in the head-to-head battle for the right to my identity. Sadly, I must admit that most days, the newer words have not the longevity, nor the inveterate consistency of being listened to and believed, to establish the more favorable opinion of myself. I would imagine I am not much different than anyone else in that, where my passion and ambition exist, there concurrently does my insecurity. The content of my writing is subjective; the actual writing, though – the process of putting words on paper – is not. They’re either there, or they’re not. As with the lifeguard, you cannot “sort of” save someone. You either did or you didn’t. Which means, the days that I have nothing to show for myself – and these days are not few and far between – are the days where I hear many of those unsavory words, both loud and clear.
I would like to change that. I’m going to try very, very hard; though I know it will not be without excessive failure that I might have the opportunity to succeed. And it is with these words, “I am human” and a endless supply of compassion and grace, I let this be my hope:
“There is a diamond inside of me that lights up the sky of my soul
Where fell the diamond when I believed that all of the hurt was my fault
I'm opening the heart door, letting in the light
Opening the heart door and giving life to me that died”
~~ Paula Cole