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Posts Tagged ‘images of doors’

By Judith Ford


Image by Jude Ford, July 2009, in front of the Mathematics Building, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, photo © 2010 Jude Ford. All rights reserved.


This is my son, at the door of the math building at the University of Michigan. A month after this picture he’d go through that door to begin his life as a math PhD candidate and as a college teacher. He’d discover the frustration of trying to teach calculus to a bunch of freshmen who wouldn’t give a damn. Who wouldn’t share one drop of the passion he feels for his subject. Years before this photo, he’d told me, with tears in his eyes, that he wished more people could see how elegant and beautiful math was.

Despite the beauty of math, it was never enough.

My son started grad school a month short of his 21st birthday. He was overly ready and not ready at all. He’d had a summer of brutal awakenings, realization upon realization of all he missed out on by being a child math prodigy. Not that he could have avoided being who he was. He was blessed, as much as cursed, with an unusual mind, shunned by children who thought he was showing off, trying to make them feel stupid, when all he was doing was using the language and thoughts natural to him. He had a 30-year-old’s vocabulary by the time he was in first grade. I’m not kidding.

He and I had a conversation just a week ago, about his intellectual differentness. He pointed out to me that he’d met a lot of really smart people in the honors math program at the U of Chicago, from which he’d graduated last June. “There are a lot of people out there who are way smarter than I am,” he said. “I don’t think I was all that unusual when I was a kid.”

I disagreed. “Yes, dear, you really were different. It was obvious by the time you were 2. You learned things in big huge gulps. At a rate that wasn’t usual, that was, frankly, a little scary. And you didn’t know how to play with other kids.”

“I still don’t.”

“That’s what was scary to me when you got tested and those scores came back so freakishly high. I knew you were going to be lonely.”

“I don’t remember ever not being lonely.”

“Kids your age were intimidated by you. By third grade, they’d started avoiding you.”

“I thought they all knew this secret thing that I’d somehow missed out on. I thought math could make up for that. I thought it would solve everything. I was pathetic. I never learned how to be a human being.”

“How brave of you to see that,” I think I said. “So now what do you need to do?”

“I don’t have a clue,” he answered.

There’s ivy growing over the top of this door, up at the right hand corner. Brings to mind the academic cliché of ivied walls and the idea that this door, being partly occluded, is yet another incomplete solution, leading to an unknown and no doubt imperfect path. Math, a career in math, still won’t solve my son’s life or end his loneliness.

See the way he holds his arms and shoulders. His uncertainty and discomfort are obvious. And that he’s trying to be patient with me as I take his picture. He squints at me. He frowns. He knows I’m doing a mom thing that, for some reasons not clear to him, I need to do.

Does he know how my heart hurts for him? How much I wish I could soothe away the pain in his face with something as simple as a hug and a bedtime story. How these things, too, are mom things that I can’t help feeling. He doesn’t need to know. I don’t tell him and I try not to let him see.

He tolerates my hug when I say good-bye. He doesn’t hug back. He doesn’t hold on. His gaze, over my shoulder, already fixed on that door.

It’s trite to say that when he walked through that door he walked into the rest of his life. But I want to say it. So I am. He did. He walked into his adult life without a clue. Which is the only way possible to walk into one’s life. And interestingly, the only way that is, in fact, a kind of solution.


Judith Ford is a psychotherapist and writer who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was red Ravine’s very first guest writer, with her 25 Reasons I Write post. She joins ybonesy and QuoinMonkey in writing about Topic post WRITING TOPIC — DOOR. Judith’s other pieces on red Ravine include Mystery E.R. and a writing group practice I Write Because.

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doorways (three)





Door etymology: Merger of Old English dor (pl. doru, “large door, gate”) and Old English duru (pl. dura, “door, gate, wicket”). The base form is frequently in dual or plural, leading to speculation that houses of the original Indo- Europeans had doors with two swinging halves. Form dore predominated by the 16th Century, but was supplanted by door. First record of dooryard is c.1764; doorstep is from 1810.





doorways (one)






Symbolism of Doors

Doors symbolize hope, opportunity, opening, passage from one state or world to another, entrance to new life, initiation, the sheltering aspect of the Great Mother. The open door is both opportunity and liberation.

Gates shares the symbolism of entrance, entry into a new life, communication between one world and another, between the living and the dead. Gates and portals are usually guarded by symbolic animals such as lions, dragons, bulls, dogs or fabulous beasts. At the gates of the House of Osiris, a goddess keeps each gate, and her name must be known to enter.

A door is an important element of a house, a symbol of passage from one place to another, one state to another, from light to darkness.

Entrances to holy places (temples, cathedrals) are not necessarily invitation to participate in the mysteries contained inside. The act of passing over the threshold means that the faithful must set aside their personalities and materialism, to confront the inner silence and meditation that it symbolizes.

As an access to a refuge or the warmth of a hearth, a door also symbolizes communication, contact with others and with the outside world. An open door attracts because it signifies welcome, invites discovery, but a door can also signify imprisonment, isolation. A closed door signifies rejection, exclusion, secrecy, but also protection against dangers and the unknown.





orange-red door





Doors in Literature

A doorway has a narrow view of the world, but a person can walk through the doorway. The doorway is their opportunity to actually make a difference in the world. People who are more willing to make a difference in the world have an easier time walking through the doorway then others.

Characters in stories that are too scared to walk through a door are also scared about what the world might do to them. They would rather keep that doorway as their shell from the rest of the world.





red door





Words for Doors



“Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.”

~Emily Dickinson




“A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.

~Ogden Nash




“I look like just like the girl next door…if you happen to live next door to an amusement park.”

~Dolly Parton




“The outward man is the swinging door; the inward man is the hinge.”

~Meister Eckhart




“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

~Johnny Cash





doorways (four)




Your Door Assignment

Write about doors. Doors of perception, cellar doors, sliding doors, The Doors. A portal or entry. A doorway. Indoors and out of doors. A door to your mind, locked doors, open doors. What does a door mean to you?

Off your hinges? You make a better door than a window? Katy, bar the doors! ybonesy is on her way, and Lord knows, we don’t want her shadow to darken the door.

There are so many door idioms. We beat paths to doors, get a foot in the door, see someone to the door, close one door only to have another open, and think fondly of the girl next door.

Pick up your fast-writing pen and your notebook and write without stopping. Cross that threshold, but don’t cross out. For 15 minutes. Now.

(Pssst. If you want to photograph doors, please do so and share your thumbnails in the comments section below.)








white doors doorways (two)

doorways (six) doorways (five)

All photos were taken by ybonesy in January 2010, in or around
Hue, Vietnam, at three sites: the Citadel, the Palace of Emperor
Khai Dinh, or Emperor Minh Mang’s burial palace.






Sources

About Doors


About Vietnam (photos)

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