Corridors

You are familiar with this corridor.

You have been walking through it, past so many doors for all of your life.

There is a familiar route that you have been taking for a while now. It isn’t particularly easy to traverse but you have become so used to navigating the obstacles along this path that it has become comfortable.

There is a door at the end of this corridor. It is the same size as all the other doors, but this one is made of a heavy, rich wood that has been perfectly crafted, sanded, and set against its frame. You don’t need to touch it to see how smooth the surface is, but you do – because this is the door.

There’s a particular trick to the handle, a knack to wiggling it in just the right way so that it turns. If your hand isn’t in the right position you know you’re going to have to get a better grip and start the process all over again. Even when you feel the catch slip free you have to prepare yourself for the weight of that door.

You pull the handle, certain and steady until a slither of light begins to filter through the gap. The strain on your wrist feels like a string tied all the way from the tips of your fingers, through the middle of your arm and all the way up into your brain is being pulled. You pull, and you pull, because there is no other way to go but here – this is the right path. This is the path you have chosen and it is not like the others.

The handle feels like it might break off under the weight of the door you’re so desperate to open. Is the handle not fit for the door or is it something about this pathway that is wrong? There is no other way along this road and you know that because you’ve opened so many doors on this journey, you have seen so many, and have been through countless others but you haven’t seen this one before.

You steady your feet, you ground yourself, you grip the wrist holding the handle with your free hand and you lean back. The door opens. At first, at the same agonisingly slow pace, so that the light from the other side grows steadily until there’s enough room to put your foot between the door and the frame but just as you go to rebalance your weight the door swings open.

The shock, and the surprise you feel at how suddenly the door opens to you is enough to force you back a few steps and as the door opens fully you have expect that it will close again. You hear the gentle knock of the handle against solid wall and it stops as if held in place.

Something tells you that this door will remain open for some time, but you’re hesitant to step through. It took so long to get here, so much effort and energy to open this single door and now that it is open you wonder whether it is the door you wanted to open after all. Tentative steps carry you back to the doorframe, you don’t want to step over it just yet – just in case you change your mind. There are other doors that are open to you, other corridors you could have gone down besides this one, corridors you can still go down. This one called out to you because it was different, but that makes you worry. If this door was different, will all the others along this path be different too?

You notice that the frame of the door is exactly the same as all the others that have come before this one. This isn’t the first one you’ve taken time to study, you hope it won’t be the last but sometimes you’ve been going so fast the frame of the door never seemed important to you but you know at the heart of it that they are all the same.

A light ‘click’ echoes around the corridor behind you and before you have the chance to think, or speak, or do anything about it – the door swings closed from behind you. That familiar weight is there again, this time pressed against your back and there is no way to go but forward. You don’t push back, there’s no time to react and instead you take one, two, three steps into this new unknown.

As you were stood surveying the door frame you thought, like all the other corridors hidden behind each one of these doors that this one was just the same as all the others – but the light is blinding. It is so bright that you cannot see the walls, there is no clear path ahead of you, and even the door that you came through seems to fade into nothingness.

You close your eyes. At least here you can pretend that the things you see are not the things which surround you. You can conjure up all kinds of doors and corridors here, force yourself to believe that what you see is what will be there when you open your eyes. You can even make up little obstacles and challenges along the way, trick yourself into believing that this must be real because it’s just as complicated and difficult as it has always been. There is nothing new, or scary, frightening or unknown about this new pathway because you can see it.

Opening your eyes becomes your biggest fear. You can tell that it is still bright from the red behind your eyelids. If the light never goes away then how will you ever move from beyond this spot? You cannot stay here forever.

Can you?

You ask yourself again, whether you could stay here. With your eyes closed you can see whatever you want to see. You take a deep breath, and think about all the things that make you happy. You feel the corner of your mouth move as the muscles in your face tighten. That’s a thought that make you smile. You think about it again, and suddenly you are thinking about so many things, all at once and all at the same time – the smile on your face is huge now, you haven’t smiled like this for a long time it’s all too much and then…

You open your eyes.

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