Today I want to pose an important question, yet one that is perhaps a little less confronting than those raised in previous posts. It’s a question that simply calls for self reflection and I’ll try to make it clear through an analogy of mine. Now, before I begin, I want to note that I’m not a fantastic writer and I don’t pretend to be. My analogy will most certainly be flawed because in the words of C.S. Lewis, I am a “layman and an amateur” in this department.
Anyway, it starts and ends with the echo of a voice you vaguely perceive:
“Where are you now?”
You’re in a whitewashed room. The floor is white. The walls are white. The ceiling is white. There are several doors and they too, are white. You gaze upon the numerous doors and you see no difference, nor do you smell or taste anything. The only thing that you possess is a desire to move forward, and that’s exactly what you do. You randomly pick a door and you venture through, only to find yourself in a room that looks identical to the last. You don’t close the door behind you because there is no point. You pick up the pace and begin to open doors in a rhythmic and monotonous fashion.
Suddenly, something changes! Your sense of smell comes alive and you begin to understand that the rooms behind different doors encompass different dynamics. One room has a pungent odour while another is sweet and inviting. Of course, the decision is obvious. You keep moving forward because that’s what your heart tells you to do.
Suddenly, something changes! The room you’re in comes alive with colour and you find yourself standing on a patch of grass with the sound of water trickling from a nearby fountain. You approach the doors that lie before you and you press your cheek against each frame. You sink down onto your stomach and peer under them. Of course, the decision is obvious. You pick the door that invites you with a beautiful smell and promises you a radiant environment. You keep moving forward because that’s what your mind tells you to do.
Before long your existence is filled with a wealth of knowledge and understanding. It’s all too easy. You’ve been to the mountaintops, you’ve splashed in the ocean and you’ve smelt the luscious scent of strawberries. You know exactly which rooms to avoid and you smile and laugh in the years of your innocence. You’ve become an expert at opening doors.
Suddenly, something changes! The room that you’re in gets bigger and is filled with the sights and smells of the past. You turn around to see a myriad of open doors and you instantly understand what is happening. Between your toes you feel the same golden sand that you encountered many rooms ago and you smell the sweetness of lavender in the air. The room is a culmination of every decision you’ve made thus far. Joyous, you select your next door because you can hear the clang of cutlery and can almost taste the gourmet dishes that lie behind it. You keep moving forward because that’s what your gut tells you to do.
You enter the room to find that there is no cutlery and no food...only rusty chains and the sharp scent of rotting meat. For the first time in your life, you discover what it means to be deceived and understand that you have the capacity to make mistakes. Before you move forward, you hesitate and you pause for a long amount of time. Indecision and doubt has entered your world.
Years pass and the wheels keep on turning ever so slowly. Some doors bring fortune while others bring despair. There are voices inside your head telling you to open doors that you shouldn’t, and now and then you fall. You keep moving forward because you know that you should, but sometimes you stand still and sometimes against your will, your feet compel you to act.
Soon enough, it all feels the same to you. You’re sick of the tiresome routines and the familiarity of opening doors. You smell the sweetness of lavender for a second and then you’re completely overwhelmed by rotting meat and the lingering stench of manure from a previous room. The grass beneath you withers and is covered in snow. Does the world around you have to be the result of every decision you’ve made thus far? You long for an answer.
Something within you tells you to turn around and set out to close some of the doors...you don’t completely comprehend it but you hope to make a difference nonetheless. You spend the next few months of your life sifting through your past decisions, yet there are way too many to count and the ones that smell the worst and make you feel the worst are impossible to find.
Weary, you return to your most recent room and in an extraordinary and desperate act, you shut the door behind you. Suddenly, the air smells different. There is no stench. Your feet feel different. They are comfortable and warm.
Dancing in your mind are the fragmented memories of times gone by...but they can’t hurt you.
A voice whispers in the distance:
“Where are you now?”