Alexander Graham Bell famously said, “When one door closes, another opens.”
In recent times we’ve certainly seen some doors close—literally and figuratively—which led me to think about which doors or windows have opened.
With work, social and other activities curtailed, many of us have turned our attention to, or increased our attention on, cultural pursuits. I found myself noticing references to and images of windows and doors in culture, and their representation. It’s astonishing what you see when you really look.
From a 16th century, Michelangelo drawing of a door to the Death Star window in “The Empire Strikes Back,” windows and doors, it seems, have a rather important and storied place in our cultural history. Who knew?
In movies, there are dozens: Holly Golightly gazing through the window at Tiffany’s; the door to the Emerald City in “The Wizard of Oz”; the leg lamp in the window in “A Christmas Story”; or the heartbreaking scene from “Titanic” when Rose floats on the door that is a makeshift raft. Most pertinent of all, perhaps, is Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”, but it’s not the only thriller involving memorable windows and/or doors. The poster for “The Exorcist” features Father Merrin outside the windows of the possessed Regan MacNeil’s home, and who can forget Jack Nicholson saying, “Heeeere’s Johnny!” through the axed bathroom door in “The Shining”? (This scene is a twofer for a window-and door guy like me: Shelley Duvall had just tried to escape through the bathroom window).
Speaking of the bathroom window, there is that Beatles song (she came in through it), as well as Beethoven’s “O Mary at the Window Be”, “How Much is That Doggie in the Window”, or “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” by Credence Clearwater Revival, to name just a few. There’s also, of course, a band: The Doors.
Shakespeare asked in “Romeo and Juliet”, “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?” and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle made the door to 221B Baker Street world-famous. Artists Hopper, Matisse, and DaVinci (in “The Last Supper”) prominently featured windows and doors, and even astronaut Sally Ride is quoted from her experience in space: “But when I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth.”
And there are myriad photos, among them the famous, haunting photo of President John F. Kennedy, his back to the camera and framed by the window in the Oval Office, titled “The Loneliest Job in the World.”
But what I keep coming back to is that Bell quote. There is a bright side to be found amidst almost every struggle. For some of us, that might mean having the time to notice things we hadn’t before. Whatever form it takes for you, I hope you are discovering your personal open window or door.
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