In my memory, it was a big book, but it probably wasn’t really all that big. There was a picture on the front cover, with children watching a goat which was butting at a gate. It seems to me the gate was big, too. I don’t remember the stories, can’t remember the purpose for the title, but the words are haunting my thoughts recently.
“Open the Gate”
Now, in my advancing age, I suppose the imagery intended to be evoked by the title is that of a new world opening to the youngsters who were learning to read from that mid-century reader. The vistas that reading opened up are certainly not to be scoffed at…the lands to which one’s imagination could travel; the people that one could become familiar with…all without ever once leaving the comfort of the armchair or school-desk. The gates in the mind could be opened, but what of other gates that life sets in our path (or that we build ourselves)?
Open the Gate.
Gates are made for two different purposes–to keep things out and to keep things in. Their disadvantage is that, regardless of the purpose intended, they achieve the opposite one as well. The gate which keeps dogs in also keeps friends from approaching. The gate which keeps strangers at bay turns into a prison, behind which once free folks become inmates, compelled to stay in until at last, they become content to live in the small world within which they have incarcerated themselves.
Open the Gate.
“Stagnant waters are that way because they never go anywhere. Growth and progress occur as we move out of our accustomed paths, applying what we have learned and absorbing new lessons, to take on bigger and unfamiliar tasks. You’ll never realize your potential until you move out of the place of comfort and into the place of opportunity.” I wrote those words several months ago and came across them again today. How arrogant and hypocritical! I said them, but have never actually lived them. Dwelling in my fenced and gated little world, I have successfully kept discomfort and challenge at arm’s length, both protected and imprisoned by the fences I have built.
Open the Gate!
Tonight, I’m warning you that one day soon, you may find the gate standing open and this restless wanderer escaped from the asylum. Interesting word, that. Asylum. It means “a place of shelter and safety.” In recent times though, we have come to think of it as a prison for the deranged and demented. Somehow, the evolution of meaning is apropos. We seek safety and find captivity; needing stability, we become unbalanced.
I’m not telling you that I will be leaving behind my home and family, or all the people I love; I won’t. I simply mean that safety and protection no longer seem so safe and protected. There is much to be done with little time in which to accomplish it. And, these locked gates make it impossible to even start.
I wonder if the lock will even open anymore. Well, the only way to find out is to try. You know, it occurs to me, before I take my leave–there is room on the road for more than one at a time. Do you want to escape with me?
Open the Gate!
“Remember what Bilbo used to say; ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.'”
“People gather bundles of stick to build bridges which they never cross.”
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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