Open Windows

I sometimes think of Julie Andrews as the aspiring nun Maria not-yet-Von Trapp in The Sound of Music walking optimistically, albeit a bit sadly, away from the abbey and toward the Von Trapp household in her brown wool frock saying “When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”

As of late, I have thought of that cinematic moment often.

Keep your head up, Emily.

Keep your eyes open, Emily.

Have faith, Emily.

In looking for the source of this quote, I stumbled upon something similar attributed to Alexander Graham Bell: “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

Then, after reading that and recognizing my own longing and regretfulness, I remembered that my mom also sent me an email with the following: You are not a failure. You took a step of faith and a door closed. That means you’re one step closer to an open door.

Reminders, reminders.  You see how they have been seeking me out lately.  Or, how I have been willing to receive them.  It has been much like the experience of learning a new word and then hearing and seeing it in the newspaper, on the radio, flowing out of your friend’s mouth so casually that you were embarrassed that you didn’t know it before.

In the spirit of these opportunistic sentiments, I feel compelled to share that I have had two striking experiences in the last week that have both  walked me through the boarded up house of my mind to expose an open window and have effectively closed a stubborn, heavy door in my heart.

While there is a part of me that would like nothing more but to do so, I do not think it wise nor appropriate to flesh out those experiences here.  It is worth just stating that one, the window opening experience, was a very positive encounter with altruism, and the other, a very negative experience with egocentrism.

I am thankful, deep down in the core of myself, for both experiences.  There is so much to be learned on this walk of life and these experiences, joyful or miserable, are only pushing me toward fulfilling my greater purpose whatever that may be. (Pardon my existentialism!)

I am committed to not only becoming aware of the open windows in my life, but to climbing through them.  I understand that some windows may require the building of a makeshift ladder to reach them or the muscles to pull them wider to fit through.  I know that some windows may be easy-to-reach and easy-to-understand, while others may be reached only through the conquering of a fear or, as stated above, a step of faith. I am prepared to walk the ledge outside the window if necessary and then to jump and land, hopefully, on both feet. (Or at least gracefully on my butt…) I also understand that some of these windows may also close behind me and that that is a part of life.

I am thirty-five and, unless I die a tragic, untimely death, I have many years ahead of me to window hunt and climb.

Yes, yes I do.

So, analogies aside, how does one hunt and climb? How does one live in the present but remain healthily forward thinking, or at least, forward moving?

I have on occasion said that, in the face of difficulty, one can lie in their bed all day and hope to die or they can keep living. That’s the truth and that’s that. There really is no other choice.  I guess there is also the Purgatorial choice to keep on living miserably, but, while pain is necessary, I suppose that is akin to lying in the bed or to committing to a life of Zombie-ism.

So, part of forward thinking then is not just surviving, but putting on the damned steel-toed boots and off-roading it through muddy and unfamiliar territory.  It is important, perhaps, not to just survive but to kick butt.  To feel what you feel without judgment and to better yourself because of it.

I know sometimes, because I am a very emotional person whose feelings run the full gamut, I am ashamed of my emotions and/or try to analyze them to death.  I am learning, bit-by-bit, to look at them in the same way that, in the previous post, I decided to look at my obsessive thoughts: to think Oh, there you are.  Hi.  Now let’s get on with business. Easier said than done sometimes especially with those persistent negative or confusing feelings, the ones that hurt deeply or those that don’t make sense.

Still lately I have found solace in the fact that I am not alone in these feelings.  There is the recognition that pain and joy and anxiety and hope and confusion are all part of the wider human experience.  One big way that this realization has struck me is through music.  I have been living by specific songs (especially Outkast’s “Liberation” and Feist’s “I Feel it All”), hitting repeat, printing the lyrics, posting them around my house, and belting them out as if on stage.  (I recently entered a parking lot with the Outkast song blaring only to be laughed at because of the bump and grind of my mini Toyota’s backside…)  I believe that if a person or group of people has been so moved to express, through such powerful and intimate beauty, the same feelings and experiences that I have had or am having, then it must be close to universal.  You know, the whole idea about music and math being the only, certainly pre-Babel, languages spoken by everyone.

I’ve also been reading books—self-help, memoir, fiction—that also express these universal experiences and emotions.  Some suggest, such as Elizabeth Lesser’s Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, that you not try, even the slightest bit, to hide these feelings from others.  That, in fact, you may be assisting the human race to communicate, become closer, and maybe even to unify.  A few months ago, I was in such personal and financial doldrums, that when asked “How are you?” I often responded in a very TMI sort-of way. (“I Feel it All”) Sometimes I would go back and apologize or explain and sometimes I would just think Oh flippin’ well.  That’s life and that’s my experience and I don’t care who knows it.  (“Liberation”)

So, these open windows?

Basically, aside from keeping one’s eyes open and on the prize and being willing and able to take risks and have faith, I am saying that part of moving forward is being real.  Being one’s self.  And, being true to one’s self.  To walk one foot in front of the other, perhaps not comfortably, but with confidence and without judgment.  Not to “look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” And, to understand that we are certainly not, and never, alone.

My open window was just a glimpse into a possible future in which peace and love and teamwork went hand-in-hand.  A brief glimpse into knowing my heart’s desires and to moving toward the light of them.

Yes, I am committed to the climb and the understanding that the hike thereafter is not always easy, but that those exercises  are necessary to make the most out of this beautiful life.

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1 Comment

  1. Melisa said,

    June 4, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    I think you really captured the essence of these experiences! Here’s to open windows!


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