Jan 272017

What is a door?  What does it mean to you?  How does it make you feel?

I came across this door recently on my way to work.  It’s part of an exit from the subway that winds up through the Wanamaker Building (now Macy’s).  I bet most people using this stair walk right past this door without giving it a second thought.  To be honest, I never thought much about it until I saw it standing open one day (photo below).

If you think about it, a door can illicit a number of different emotions as you interact with it.  Think of the relief you may feel walking through the front door to your home after a long trip.  What about walking through the door to your workplace?  Maybe some stress or, hopefully, some excitement as you arrive, and maybe a feeling of freedom or satisfaction as leave for the evening.    

Those feelings can even change depending on what is happening in your life before and after you pass through the door.  Maybe you’re really looking forward to a nice dinner as you approach your front door, and then you get through the door only to realize that the fridge is empty.  Then you head back out that same door feeling disappointed that you need to run to the store.  The door hasn’t changed, but you feel different as you interact with it.

Now, suppose that your key doesn’t work, or you discover that you left your keys on your desk at work.  I once thought I left my keys at the hospital after an overnight stay (but they later turned up in the bottom of my bag!).  Now the door becomes a barrier.  It’s exactly as you left it in the morning, but your attitude about it is totally different.  You know what’s on the other side, and you want to be there; but you can’t get there now.  It may feel like a broken promise.  You stand there and knock, and the anticipation builds as you wait for someone to answer and let you in.

Now, remember that door I saw on the stairway?  Given its location, I wouldn’t have much expectation for it, unless, maybe it contains a short cut to the Starbucks at the other end of the building?  Or, if I’m climbing this stair alone, should I worry who might come through that door?  What if I stood there and knocked?  Would anyone answer?  Well, once I saw it open, I realized that the door meant something totally different:

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