I was never good at picking doors
I was never good at picking doors. It seemed that at any given moment, there were quite a lot of them that were open. But choosing one? It was paralyzing. Before crossing any threshold, I had the full depths of my imagination to explore, every potential future giving me the thumbs up, beckoning me to come in. But a door once chosen necessitated an exploration of what was beyond, and I was aware at every moment that some dreams crumbled to the touch. So I was scared to reach for any at all.
It wasn’t that you couldn’t come back out once you had gone through a door; it was that finding out your passage through a door didn’t give you access to the places you wanted to go might very well make you feel like you had failed. Every door had a path to unbelievable bounty, but to find these paths was never guaranteed. Before you started trying, you might imagine the path to be pleasant, worth the effort, giving you greater rewards than pain. But once upon it, the reality might be totally different. Experience had taught me that striving could be a torturous occupation. But quitting in the midst of striving might make me feel even worse.
Sometimes, going through doors wasn’t even a matter of my own choices. You see, some doors had gatekeepers, famously strict or renowned for having no standards at all. A part of me hated them, thinking you ought to be able to give something your best shot before anyone even held you back from trying. But then again, going for something without needing to seek anyone’s permission sometimes felt worse: in that case, you only had yourself to blame.
Going through doors and down paths I found I had no interest in continuing down was never a useless exercise; in fact, I always came out of it a little better than I started. But it was still time lost on joy I hadn’t gotten to experience in the meanwhile; it was time spent searching for ways to heal the wounds of too many people who would never usher you into their lives, who would never love you back. I had not built myself to be someone who would fall down at the slightest hit, but that did not mean I meant for myself a lifetime of pain from challenges that would toughen me without making me stronger.
The doors I’ve faced have ranged in variety, sometimes overwhelmingly huge gates that from stolen glances easily promise a landscape entirely different from all the places I’ve been before, sometimes modest and not particularly life-altering. The modest ones pop up quite a lot in all the dead time one encounters in life. And oddly enough, choosing between these small doors can feel just as consequential as those big ones. Maybe because too much time has passed since I’ve gone through anything majestic, so every small door feels like it could lead somewhere. And so the paralysis of choice makes its presence known again, each small door a proxy for a larger door that may lie beyond.
I’ve been shopping for doors recently, perhaps perusing small details like the make of the handles or the creak of the hinges with unnecessary attention. It seems my impulse is to break myself into multiple smaller versions of myself, letting each miniature of my essense explore the different thresholds I imagine myself to have access to. It’s something I think I’ve done before, although I think I had more help back then. And whether one can truly fragment oneself is an experiment that may not end well, but I suppose it’s the one I find myself in now regardless.