Consider a door. When you walk through a door, you move from one reality to another. For example, you are outside on the front porch, reaching for a handle. Your face is cold, and your fingers, despite your gloves, are starting to get cold. You may be carrying something in – the mail, groceries, as bottle of wine. You are trying to remember if you left anything in the car, while at the same time you are anticipating the indoor warmth, a short to-do list when you get inside, including checking your phone for email and Sandy’s play at Words With Friends. You wonder what Kim is doing, if she’s taking photos on the porch, doing something in her art studio, or maybe laundry or fixing me food. You may anticipate a tail-wagging greeting from your dog, or perhaps from your wife. The anticipation is rich.
Then the door swings open on its heavy hinges, and you are in, and it’s a different world. You put stuff down, remove your boots, hang up you coat, pick up whatever you put down, and move on into the new reality, which no doubt has surprises. The door has done its magic again.
Sometimes, however, the door’s magic is too powerful. You open a door, or walk through a doorway, into a different room – something as simple as that – and you forget why you went into that room. You may be distracted by something you see there – something fascinating just outside the window, or something that needs to be rinsed off or put away – and you just forget. Or maybe you aren’t distracted at all. Maybe opening a door just reboots part of your brain, and as sometimes happens, the reboot doesn’t quite work, and that beach ball is spinning somewhere in your skull.
It doesn’t even have to be a door going from outdoors to indoors, or room to room. Sometimes you open the refrigerator door and stand there staring at the harsh light, trying to remember what, exactly, you wanted to get out of the refrigerator. And what is your refrigerator thinking as it looks out at you? Or when you open the door to your closet to confront your clothing choices, portions of your brain light up (or, if you are like me, go dark). Or maybe you confront the dust bunnies that seem to hide there.
There’s one side, and there’s the other side. Many of us use, consciously or not, transition rituals. It might be, like Mr. Rogers, changing your shoes when you come through the door into your living room. My dad would come through the door, take off his necktie and have a cocktail. One side of the doorway, then the other side. Picture different sections of your brain lighting up as you move through a doorway, whether there’s an actual door there or not.
The physical door itself is another matter. It’s a barrier, of course, which makes entering through a door more dramatic than through a doorless doorway. Even though your door probably has hinges, it’s still a physical barrier you overcome. It may be decorative or architecturally interesting, but it’s still, mainly, just a door.
And then there’s the doorlike lid on your laptop. Open it, and see what’s going on in your brain and how that feels . . ..
A professor teaching Freshman Composition entered his classroom through a window and asked his class to write about whether he came in through a door or a window.
Now, consider a window . . ..