We’ve all heard the saying, “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” But recently, I heard that saying amended to include the phrase: “But that hallway sure is a bitch.” This week – on two separate occasions – I was reminded of this phrase, complete with the addendum. For me, that last line is the most powerful part. It is the critical piece of maintaining hope, maybe even in preserving optimism. Without it, the transition from door to window seems instantaneous; as if, by some divine miracle the loss of one valued thing comes automatically with the opportunity for something new. Sometimes, the door just closes. It could be days, or weeks, or even years before the window opens for us. And I believe it is how we behave in that bitch of a hallway that defines us.
The two conversations I had this week that reminded me of the door/window phrase were not easy conversations. They were with two different people who experienced dramatic shifts in their lives caused by circumstances they never predicted. Both were completely uprooted, personally and professionally, when things stopped going “according to plan.” Their lives – and the people they are today – are completely different than they were not all that long ago. One of the people I spoke with survived the hallway and found her window. The other is still lingering in the hall, waiting for opportunity to once again shine through. It’s a test of time and perseverance that comes with the realization that life just doesn’t go according to plan; at least not the plan we’ve developed for ourselves. There are just too many variables to think that we can control everything. What we can control, however, is what happens in that hallway between the door that closed and the window that will open. Perhaps those who never find the window stopped looking because the hallway got too dark or too lonely. Maybe they just got stuck in that metaphorical place between having what we think we want and finding what we think we need. Perhaps they never realized that the hallway – if we use it correctly – is the area that makes us grateful for the opportunities we’ve had and gives us hope for what will come. It is the place where we can learn the most about ourselves.
As I write this, I am struck with one other realization. It comes to me just now. And while I normally like to process thoughts before I share them here, it is too powerful for me not to just keep typing. What if the metaphorical door and window represent our hearts and minds? What if we get so comfortable in our ideologies, our patterns, or routines that those things become like heavy wood doors? They keep out the things we don’t want to address and keep us safe inside an illusion of security. When the door is closed, we are naively safe inside walls that make us comfortable. Perhaps when a change in our circumstance pushes us outside a door that closes behind us, it is a push for us to open our hearts and our minds to realize something new. And maybe that’s why it is not another door that opens, but instead is a window. That window lets in light and fresh air. New ideas, new ways of thinking can shine through. Not only can we see out, but others can see in; and it is perhaps that ability to let others see in that frees us. Certainly, the window represents a more reciprocal relationship with the world.
If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I am all about building relationships, about communication and learning, about finding strength to accept who I am so that I can share it with others. Perhaps we shouldn’t look at life as a series of doors to open at all. Instead, maybe we should be looking at our hearts and minds as windows – wide open windows that let in new ideas, welcome new possibilities, and allow us to push joy back out into the world.
(Ending note: as I was looking for a photo to use with this blog, I came across a fellow blogger whose sentiments related not only to this blog, but to ones I’ve written about my struggle with infertility. To find the blog was a window opening right before me! Life is so funny sometimes and sometimes we get just what we need at the moment we least expect. Anyway, because her sentiments echo what I’ve just written about, I share the link: http://juststoptryinganditwillhappen.com/2012/10/12/closed-doors-open-windows-and-the-hallways-in-between/)