Fighting through the Thresholds
There are stories in the strips we pass over.
I often write about death and aging for my work, as if I want to know everything about those subject matters. Will I see color differently as I age? Why do aging adults offload choices on someone else? Can I predict my end? Mostly, I am intrigued by the thresholds we must cross on the flooring of our lives.
Long ago, I spent a two-year period visiting someone close to me in prison. A dear friend of mine asked, “Why do you do that?”
“Fear.” I replied.
There’s a thin, wobbly, sometimes faint line, whatever color you want to draw it, between me and that person, between us all. It’s that little piece of wood or metal or stone stripping we hardly give thought to when we step on or over it. Plush carpeting to pine wood floors. Inside prison walls to fresh air. The person we are. The person we want to be. Aging and death. There is story in that strip. We either pass over it into becoming someone or something else—or not.
Maybe that rocky or smooth strip is our fear, acting as stumbling block to keep us from what we really want.
As I haunt the city streets on my morning walks, I note they too overflow with thresholds: the cracked sidewalk I might trip on, the raised speed bump keeping a car from slamming into me, the halo off a yellow caution light warning off the speeding car.
Thresholds are everywhere.
“Thresholds are dangerous places, neither here nor there, and walking across one is like stepping off the edge of a cliff in the naive faith that you'll sprout wings halfway down.” writes Alix. E. Harrow in The Ten Thousand Doors of January.
At 55, there’s a lot of neither here nor there in my life as of late, with my thresholds increasing in number. Some I’m standing before the swinging doors in cities where my children live. Some portals are more proverbial, such as how often do I have to call myself a writer to convince me I’m one. Others I’ve discovered in nature themselves, like the indiscernible shift between high tide and low, determining the direction of one’s walk along the coast.
These gateways call to mind the metal strip nailed to the brick block linoleum floor in my parent’s basement. How many times I passed over it as a youngster, with confidence and ignorance, and never considered the outcomes awaiting me after crossing that strip. The overused kitchenette where my mother might coerce me into the service of stirring her wedding soup, the creepy shower where I might forget to shave my legs for a date because the light was dim, the old yellow wall telephone with the long cord which I twirled around my fingers when the date I shaved for canceled on me.
To cut across the thresholds of my teens, especially those with nails or screws, I only needed a solid pair of shoes leave fear behind in the basement, and step on through. My many thresholds now require the same.