There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.–Aldous Huxley
It’s been a while. In all honesty, I have 12 drafts written and yet I can never seem to hit the “publish” button. I’m hoping to break that streak tonight as I write of a door, of all things, that has come to me a few times now.
The first time I dreamt of this door was a few weeks ago, on a lovely trip to Georgetown. That trip deserves its own post, and will get one eventually when the time is right. In that first dream of this door, I was in a field of green grass at dusk. The door, just a typical wooden frame and old style door that you could find in any old house, was placed directly in the middle of this clearing. And the closer I got to the door, the more foreboding it became. It throbbed and seemed to contort my field of view as I approached, menacing and hot with malicious energy. I was too afraid to open it the first time I saw it.
Too afraid then, and the next time, and the next. I believe I’ve dreamed of this door 3 times now.
This dream from last night, however, began differently. Instead of starting in the clearing, I was in the woods. It was not immediately apparent to me that I was going to see the door again. In fact, I assumed it would be another wolf dream of mine, as I could hear the call of wolves in the distance.
In the dying light of the day, bird song was trailing out overhead, quieting away as the pinks and yellows of sunset turned to blue hues with twilight. There was a chill in the air, and the crunch of leaves underfoot announced Autumn in each step.
I roamed the woods for quite some time until I came to the edge of the clearing. The door loomed ahead then, just as odd and out of place as it had been in nights previous. I walked up to it again, as I had done in those nights as well. A cold breeze sent a shiver down my spine and I shouldered my coat up closer to shield myself as I made a circle around the door. Again, nothing on either side of it. A door to nowhere.
And yet an energy was pulsing from it, emanating and beckoning to me. Again, I was afraid of it. A fear that grew from some deep place within my being; as dreadful as death itself.
But I was tired. I am tired. I don’t want to be afraid anymore.
So I marched up to the door and ripped it open. I’m not sure what I expected, really. A view straight to the other side of the clearing? A Lovecraftian horror? A portal to another dimension?
None of that waited on the other side. In fact, as the fear rushed away from me, all I saw was a view back into the woods from where I had come. So tentatively, hesitantly, I stepped through the door, leaving the lush greens of the field for the darkness of the forest.
Once through the door, it slammed behind me. In a moment of panic, I rushed back, clawing at the knob and banging my fist frantically against the hard wood, only to find it locked behind me. Out of desperation, I even fumbled with the key around my neck, trying to unlock it to no avail. Fear ripped through me again as I turned around to face the fast approaching, inescapable blackness of night in the trees. Swallowing hard, I took one step forward, then another, and another.
As I walked, the door disappearing gradually from view, I felt that I was more in a tunnel than forest. The path was barely visible ahead of me, the darkness pushed in on all sides. I found it easier to look at the ground just ahead of my feet to avoid panic. The foreboding feeling was amplified now, turning to claustrophobia as well. Anxiety tore at me from all sides, invisible fingers digging into my arms and legs, plucking at my hair.
I put my head down and wrapped my arms around myself, sprinting ahead with eyes still glued to the path below. Faster and faster I ran, trying to escape the dark walls that pressed from both sides, the grasping hands that felt ever more real with their scratching and tearing. My coat was beginning to fray from the claws that dug at me with every step.
Despair ate at me. I questioned why I had ever gone through the door. Why I wasn’t satisfied with leaving well enough alone. I thought of going back, but felt the woe building as I knew the door was locked. There was no other way but forward.
And with every step, eyes fixed on the ground, I realized something. Reality had shifted again, and now it seemed the very ground I walked upon was made of woven fabric. And as I ran along the path, I felt the fabric unraveling beneath me. My gait became unstable as the weave of the fabric loosened more and more, but I pressed on. On and on, I kept going until the fabric unraveled completely.
I fell, and suddenly all the dark was light, and blindingly so. But unlike that slow fall of a normal dream? I felt the full force of gravity pulling me down at terminal velocity. Though I saw no ground approaching, I knew that when I struck it, I would die.
For hours I fell, or maybe weeks or years. The speed of the fall chased the air from my lungs and I thought I might die before I ever hit ground in this way. Drowning on oxygen, for ages and ages, the fall continued on. And eventually, the fear really was gone in all of the inevitability. Slowly over time, anxiety gave way to calm, and I forgot whatever it was that scared me to begin with.
And then, I was simply awake. As if I had never fallen asleep. Never dreamed. Never walked through the door. Never faced the fear.