It is said that when God closes a door, He opens a window. What often goes unsaid is that the window is usually opened up on the 16th floor of an office building overlooking the north side of Ventura Boulevard just off the 405 freeway during rush hour traffic. The window metaphor is designed to give hope in a seemingly hopeless situation, but rarely does anyone think about how the open window represents a wholly separate kind of hopelessness. In my 30+ years of existence, I’ve seen more doors close than I care to count. But rarely are the windows of new opportunity or future promise worth venturing through. It may be easier to trust, have faith, when one believes in a God or benevolent creator.
I however do not know what to believe. In truth, all I know is that I do not know. To place faith in something whose existence cannot be proven beyond a doubt, some mythical puppeteer who pulls our strings and closes our doors and opens our windows in the background under the guise of some elaborate plan… This almost seems like a ruse to control or remove blame from our own decision making processes.
A door or a window, it doesn’t matter. Both of these provide two essential functions: They open to let things in or out, and they close to prevent that passage. A door or window can only be manipulated by (for the most part) a human. Unless an earthquake or hurricane has forcibly made your doors stay closed and only your windows can be manipulated, I’d suggest leaving invisible spiritual forces out of the equation. Acts of “God” aren’t really within our purview.
Every relationship you have, whether platonic, romantic, or fraternal is framed around a doorway. Keeping the door opened or closed is based on how you interact with other human beings. Sometimes you will close the door. Sometimes they will. Sometimes you’ll both agree to close the door and leave it closed. Sometimes people change their mind, and find the door locked, or unlocked, by the other party. Some close doors gently, while others slam it closed. Some leave a door cracked open out of hope, while others close the door and seal it up like an ancient Egyptian tomb.
Imagine for a moment that your life is a circular room. You are surrounded by unmarked doors. There are no windows. There is hardly even enough light to make out the door frames. As you make your way through the room, examining the doors one by one, you can make out different lights coming from each door, different sounds, different smells. Each of these lights, sounds, smells, conjure up memories within you. Some doors force you to recoil out of fear and anger and pain, while other doors seem so exciting that resisting the temptation to fling them open takes all of your strength. Some doors are crusted in dust and cobwebs, while others look like they’ve been opened far too frequently.
The only similarity between each door is this: The doorknobs are all available to you and you alone.
You will never know what is behind each door until you take the chance to open it. It may lead to pain or sorrow or anger. It may lead to abundant success or the love of your life or a path that leads away from the doors you are scared to touch. Trust your heart. It knows which doors are worth opening and which aren’t worth the effort.
And for the love of “God,” leave the windows alone. The only type of people who enter or exit through windows are misbehaving children and criminals.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been lamenting a door closing. Yes, I helped to close the door. So did the other person. It was a painfully mutual decision; one that I wish did not have to be made. Every day when I make my rounds through my windowless room, I pass this door. I consider knocking. I consider opening the door. I know that behind this door lies one of two things: either a brick wall or a guillotine. Behind this door is nothing positive. There is no benefit to opening this door. My brain is convinced that opening this door will miraculously cure the sorrow that is directly associated with what is behind it. My heart knows better.
It’s a constant battle between my heart and mind. No morning or evening transpires without considering this door. I’ve piled mountains of shit in front of the door just so I don’t have to acknowledge that it exists. In the meantime, I’ve been opening every other door as a means of finding a cure. A few doors have been fun and distracting, but none have had substance.
Last week, I was wandering through my windowless room and found a very old door. This door hadn’t been opened in so long that I had nearly forgotten its existence. As I wiped away the layers of decay, the feelings of fear, pain, sorrow, and anger associated with this door leapt to life. I had to give pause and think about what I was doing. To the untrained eye, it would be easy to confuse the door I’ve been lamenting with this uncovered door. Opening this door would lead to an eerily similar room as the other, one that possesses both a brick wall and a guillotine, one that is filled with just as much hopelessness as the other.
I didn’t knock. I didn’t try the door knob.
Instead, I wrote a letter and slipped it under the door. To the recipient on the other side, I wrote the truth. The truth was something that had remained unspoken, almost forbidden, for nearly a decade. I didn’t write the truth to get this door open again or to serve my own selfish wants. I wrote the truth so that the recipient could gain closure, closure that I had denied them.
Ask any 12 stepper and they will tell you that the most difficult steps are step 8 and 9.
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
To this recipient, I had written my list of step 8 years ago. But I never took the chance on step 9. Making amends to this person would not injure them or others. Making amends to this person would grant them freedom, and freedom to myself in due course. What they tell you, in a 12 step program, is that step 9 is where your own healing really starts.
I needed to heal. The recipient needed to heal. And now that the healing has started, the door has cracked open and I’ve been able to reconnect with someone I’d thought I’d lost forever. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start.
I’m certainly happy that a door opened, and not a window.