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When One Door Closes …

Lately, I’ve been thinking about this expression: “When One Door Closes, Another One Opens.” The full saying actually goes like this:

“When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”~ Alexander Graham Bell

I’ve also heard other variations, like “When one door closes, use the window,” reinforcing the notion that there is more than one way to find a path. I’ve always considered this to be true. There are always other doors.

There’s been a few doors closing around here lately, and like Graham Bell notes, it can be hard to turn away from the closed door and move forward sometimes. I think this is why people hit their 40s and talk about a “mid-life crisis.”

Only now can I empathize with that stereotypical image of the mid-life man in crisis, running off with a young mistress in a cherry red sports car. It’s hard to close the door on our youth. I need to say goodbye to a wrinkle-free face, to days of cute bikinis, and even to any semblance of a metabolism (every woman over 40 reading this knows what I’m talking about here!).

And then I came across this meme, being shared on Facebook:

Huh. How had I never thought about it that way before? Of course … just open the door back up! Naturally, not everything is going to be the same behind that door once you open it back up again, but it’s still an option, right?

I think this may be one of the key messages that Iris Krasnow is trying to impart in her book The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes to Stay Married. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the book yet, and I’m only part way through, but she talks about the period in a long marriage when the kids do start to get older and more independent … how that’s a time to re-open some doors.

One door I closed once I became pregnant almost 11 years ago, was the more “hard core” adventuring that Hubby and I used to do together. He thrives on it, and literally needs to get outdoors or he will lose his mind. Whereas, I was always fine staying home with a young baby and letting him get out there for some fresh air and physical challenges. While he has continued to experience amazing treks and enhance his skills, I have regressed into a doughy, soft creature who prefers a comfy mattress over the awe of a starry night sky in the forest.

The other day I noticed, however, that whenever my husband is looking at his trip photos or videos, I get an uneasy feeling. A feeling almost akin to jealousy. I think I envy his experiences … his never having closed the door to this passion.

Winning a canoe trip in the Northwest Territories is literally catapulting me back to my ol’ adventuring days. I could never refuse such an adventure, but it does feel a touch uncomfortable to open up that door again. It will be the very first time that our children have not had a parent with them for a week’s time. And it will be an enormous physical challenge for someone like me who has spent far more time in plush hotels than tents over the last decade. But it is a door that I am excited to open again. Hubby and I used to have such thrilling adventures together and, call me crazy, but I think it will be romantic to be back in a tent with him (and no squirming kids).

Opening this one door again makes me think about other closed doors. What career passions have I turned away from for the sake of practicality? What artistic or athletic ventures have I never considered because I felt too old to start? These questions are tugging at me now, and I don’t want them to haunt me when I’m 80 years old and looking back on my life.

What about you? Are there any doors that have closed in your life that you would want to open now if you could? Or are you looking for totally new doors to open? Tell me your stories and help give me strength that I will actually be able to do this canoe trip!   


  1. Sarah McCormack says:

    must think about this one a while before leaving a comment..i’ll be back.

  2. This is very interesting. First off, you are never too old to try new things and sometimes it’s great to keep those doors closed and never open them again, because, really – what were we thinking!
    We were recently talking about how we miss taking walks in our neighborhood late at night…we can’t do that anymore with kids sleeping upstairs. I also want to open the door wider on far-flung travel – due to mostly financial constraints we’ve really had to hold back, but I want to share that with our kids – more Europe, South America, Asia (maybe that’s not a door to open, but rather a lottery to win).
    And I want to go back to taking yoga classes with my husband – we loved that back in the day before kids.

    • Yes, this is my husband’s mantra — you are never too old! I find it harder to embrace though. I too would really, really love to be able to share more of the world with our kids. But like you say, it is tough (impossible, even) without winning the lotto! Yoga classes with your husband sound do-able though, because there are often ways to get a young babysitter to pop over for an hour to let you both enjoy that together. Especially if it’s a regularly scheduled thing.

  3. I like that message Julie, about not being afraid to re-open the door. Or, to carry the analogy further, you could stop tugging that doorknob and take a look down the hallway – maybe there’s something new behind that next door you’ve never considered? (This is highly hypocritical from me, by the way, the most change-averse person you will ever meet.) But I think it’s good to know your limitations and push them sometimes! That’s why I think this trip will be so awesome for you and your hubby. Sometimes we need to be jolted from our comfort zone because we can’t quite bring ourselves to leave with a baby step! 😉

  4. Sarah McCormack says:

    I thought about this a lot yesterday. immediately, when reading this, the words of Mother Superior in the Sound of Music came to mind “When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a a window”…. or something like that.

    Life has closed doors for me, and I had no control over it. circumstances beyond my control. If i wrote about it here, it would sound like a soap opera. so, we’ll skip that today!

    But, through this, windows have been opened for me & I have jumped through them. I live my life very much in the moment. I grab any new exprience that i can. If I can do it, I do it because I may not be able to do it tomorrow. This is how everyone should live. Because none of us know what is in our future.

    As far as your canoe trip goes, i have no worries that you will enjoy every second of it, and appreciate it for everything it will be. We all need to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. it is only by doing this, that we will ever explore new things and ultimately, grow.

  5. Life of K says:

    SO true! I’m starting to feel old and love the idea of doing some
    Of the things I stopped when I had kids. Thank you for this post and have a really great trip!


  6. Such a thought provoking post. I feel like there are lots of doors that have closed and so many that have opened. I am amazed by the way some days feel like nothing is going right, and others it seems like all of the stars align. Hoping this week is filled with those good days.

  7. Loved this post! It made me think about my future … I am at an age where I feel pressure to conform to certain way of life. What I want to do is keep my doors open and always pursue what makes me happy without fear. Lately fear has been creeping in and I am second guessing myself, but I just always remind myself there is no one way to live life, and to just be true to who you are. Thanks for sharing this!

    • It is far easier to simply “go with the flow” and live the life that everyone around you has chosen. But in the end, if it doesn’t make you happy, you will feel unfulfilled and regretful. And we only get one shot at this life! So live it up, I say! :)

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