The Red Door
I was antsy and agitated. My marriage was on its last leg and I could no longer hold it up and make it stand as I’d done for so many years. My eldest daughter was using drugs during her last year in high school, and I felt powerless to do anything about it. I was at odds with performing my role as a pastor’s wife in a church that I abhorred going to. Life was dismal and depressing as I walked the neighborhood on an early Saturday morning.
What was I going to do about my life? About my family that was falling apart? About my values that told me I was a failure? About my recent dabbling with Shamanic practice that told me there was more to the world than what I was seeing in front of me?
A walk would help clear my head and give me a forty-five minute breather from a house that was bereft of talking, even while the silence was deafening. I was tired of attempting to explain to my husband the reasons I was unhappy, and I didn’t know what to say to my children about the state of their parent’s marriage. They knew my relationship to their father was on stormy ground, although they didn’t know what that meant for the future.
Neither did I.
Divorce? Stay together because it was the right thing to do? Continue counseling in the hopes that a third party could help me fall in love again after twenty years of marriage? Separate from him for a while in the hopes my head would clear?
My options were painful to think about, but thinking was all I’d done for the past couple of years. If I could think through what was happening inside of me in regards to my life, my relationships, and my family, then I’d know how to proceed. If I could think through the pain, then I wouldn’t have to feel how dead my marriage was and how desperate I felt about doing anything to change it.
The one glimmer of hope was my reading from a series of books by Carlos Castaneda. What he was saying was revolutionary to me: There was another world available for those who could sense it. That world was unconcerned with pain, with woes, with struggle. That world was driven by perception and awareness; it had everything to do with spirit as opposed to what could be seen with the eyes. It was a world that shamans had traveled for eons, and it was available to anyone who knocked on its door. The door was open. Access was free.
But there was a catch. And the catch was something I’d been unable to do thus far. Just as I’d been unable to leave my husband, to get a separation, or Lord knows to get a divorce, access through that door took action. No more thinking. No more pondering. No more assessing or evaluating. All those things I was prone to do as a means of managing the emotional pain I was in. Action was required. Pure and simple.
Blocks away from my house, I wandered the neighborhood streets thinking for the millionth time about what to do with my predicament. Glancing to my right, a house caught my attention. Had I ever noticed this lovely house before? The landscaping was impeccable. Trees were trimmed, the roses in the garden were in bloom, and the lawn was free of weeds. My eyes traveled up the circular driveway to the house itself. With a catch in my throat, I noticed the front door. It was painted red with a bronze knocker in the center of the wooden panels. Bright, shiny red! My favorite color. I stopped walking to stare at the door. Without quite realizing what was happening because there was no thought inside my head, the red door invited me to knock on the glossy panels.
I froze. What? Knock on a stranger’s door? There was no way I was going to walk up to a stranger’s house and knock on the door simply because it was painted red! Why? What would I say if someone answered the door?
“It’s time to take action,” said the door. “Your thoughts about what to do will get you nowhere. Now is the time. Don’t hesitate. This is the moment.”
Have you ever noticed how long a second can stretch? A second of indecision can feel torturously long. The world froze as I stood staring at the red door in agonizing indecision. The door had nothing more to say. There was nothing else to be said. Either I walk up to the door and knock on it, or I put one foot in front of the other on the sidewalk and keep walking.
How long would I stand there paralyzed? How long would my indecision rob me of action?
Somewhere in the recesses of an awareness that had atrophied a long time before, a decision was made. The decision didn’t need to be put into words. I walked up the circular pathway quickly before I could talk myself out of doing such a ridiculous thing and stood before the lovely red door with the shiny bronze knocker. I lifted my hand and knocked on the door. My heart pounded. My mouth was dry. My knees nearly buckled under me.
Suddenly my spirit soared! Without anyone physically coming from the opposite side to open the red door, I knew my heart, soul, awareness, and perception had all awakened and opened wide. I no longer waited expectantly for anyone to physically open the door. Inside of me, the red door had opened and I had walked through!
I walked home that day with the courage to change my life, my marriage, and my relationships. Those things didn’t happen over night, but happen they did. Within a year’s time, I had left the marriage and was actively working with my children to support them through the difficulty of a family dividing. I pursued my new relationship with the world beyond the red door. That world was vast indeed and offered freedom and lightness without the heaviness of unhappiness.
Every single one of us has a red door. It may not be a physical door as it was for me, but it is something that will awaken us to the unseen world and align us with the spirit of that world. Maybe it’s a song or a book that comes our way or a comment from a friend or even a stranger, but the shaman’s world is right here in front of us for anyone who has a desire to see it.
Open the door to the shaman’s world. It really isn’t outside of you; it’s inside of you, but it takes action to invite yourself in.