Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Gate Swings Both Ways

A few weeks ago, I was taking a shortcut through a subdivision I'd never entered before when something interesting caught my eye. There, in an overgrown garden at the side of an overgrown house, was a gate.

Not a fence and a gate. Not a barn gate, or a corral gate. Just a gate.

A gate that served no apparent purpose. It didn't lead to a path of any sort. It wasn't the entrance to anything observable, or the exit either. It just stood there in the middle of the yard. Calling my name.

Now I wouldn't have ever believed a simple gate could be so compelling, but as I slowed to take a better look, I could hardly contain myself. I just had to walk through that gate.

Of course the idea was silly. Why in the world would I trespass in a stranger's yard to walk through a gate to nowhere? But I'll be darned if I didn't want to. Badly.

Instead of following my irrational whim, like the law-abiding, sensible, grown-up, mature woman that I am, I pressed the gas pedal and pressed on to my appointment, for which I was already late.

I thought about that gate again this morning, and wondered what would have motivated me to want to jump out of my car, race across the lawn, swing it open and step through the threshold. Oddly enough, the moment I pictured that gate in my mind's eye, I felt my countenance lift and my heartbeat quicken. I felt ... what do you call this sensation? Excited. Yes, that's it. I felt excited.

Has it been that long since I've felt that emotion to recognize what excitement feels like?

And then suddenly I had my answer. THAT's why the gate compelled me so. It was the mystery, the fun, the adventure that the gate represented. Visions of other exciting gates in my past swirled in the periphery of my subconscious - gateways to other worlds like Narnia, visiting Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which in A Wrinkle In Time, and cavorting through old stone London gates with the Artful Dodger in Oliver.

The gate in that yard wasn't just a gate to me. It was an opening for the imagination. A place I've always loved to go, a place that always refreshed my spirit and renewed my zeal for living. A place that I just haven't had the time to visit lately with the responsibilities and drudgery of adult life.

I realize now that I need that gate. Well, maybe not that gate, but a gate. My spirit yearns to be set free in the glorious freedom and frolic of imagination symbolized by stepping through the gate.

So maybe I'll do it. Maybe I'll rig up my own gate ... in my mind. It'll look just like the gate Dorothy stepped through into the Emerald City. And maybe I'll make it a point to step through my gate now and again. Then maybe the responsibilities of adulthood won't seem like drudgery.

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