Shut the Door

When I was growing up, my parents had a dishwasher – a rare occurrence in our working-class neighborhood. They had a habit of leaving the door down so that they could reach in and get dishes whenever they wanted. (They always did things their way.) So what happened then was that I had to reach over the open door to get from the cabinet above anything like canned goods or condiments.

I always felt a vague sense of annoyance but accepted this clumsy arrangement as part of life. Years later, I came to think of this as the way my parents typically made the simplest things more difficult and awkward. Boy, was I angry at them then!

Then I finally came to a simple realization: I could have shut the door myself. Yes, it was that simple. I could have eliminated my annoyance in, literally, one second. I finally took responsibility for my own decision, and that made it easier for me to do so in other areas of my life.

So what’s the lesson? The probability is that you have a dishwasher door in your own life, something you just accept as inevitable, or something you blame on other people.

It feels a lot better when you can learn to solve your problem yourself. For example, people who have accepted boredom as part of their life need to think whether that’s really true, or if there’s something they can do to change their routine or jump-start their day with a new interest or friend. If making a friend seems impossible, is that really true?

I think I’ve still got a few open doors in my life – ideas about success, and aging, and even where I always go on vacation (I don’t have to always go to the same place, right?)

Not every problem can be solved, of course: there are life crises and financial crises and family crises and emotional crises. But even with those, there may be a way to at least improve them a little by not accepting automatically everything you have until now felt to be true or inevitable.

By closing the dishwasher door, I opened another one – to greater understanding and responsibility and possibilities.

So maybe it’s a good idea to start looking for your own door, and seeing what it opens up for you.