This piece was inspired by one of my favorite paintings pictured below. I first came across it in 2012 when I visited the Art Institute of Chicago. It hung from the wall, eight feet tall from top to bottom and immediately it absorbed me. It was probably the only time in my life that I’ve really felt moved by a painting. It took the artist, Ivan Albright, 10 years to complete covering on average 1/4 of a square inch a day. The full name of the painting is That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door).
No matter how hard I try nothing is going to stop me from doing what I want to do. I may prolong it but it will never go away. Eventually it will find its way out of me.
I’ve seen it before in my dreams. When I close my eyes to meditate it is there. At first it appears to be nothing more than the black expanse of my inner eyelids, but the more I relax, the more I lose focus, the sharper it becomes. Crinkled chips of paint peeling back from its ancient façade and a brush stroke of grimy dust speak to the many layers of foregone conclusions that have led so many men astray and kept them outside the confines of its iron hinges. At times it is staggering in its enormity as I look up and up but still cannot locate the knob to turn. Like an ant I can barely even comprehend it as the three dimensional object it surely would reveal itself to be if ever it swung open. Other times it is so far away and appears as little more than a miniscule rectangular box. I never know if I should pursue it or run from it, but it is always there and it is always calling me.
The door is my future. The door is every unanswered question I was ever too afraid to ask. I would even lie to myself before admitting that I even cared what was behind it. But I do care. I care a lot. In fact it seems like the only thing worth caring about most days. This is because it is everything I will become. But then I remind myself that “becoming” is a process. It’s something that is always in motion.
Is the door even real? It’s the only thing that stands between where I am and where I’m going, but if I’m always going there, if I’m always in motion, is it really even closed? Perhaps it’s actually an infinite set of doorframes through which I’m always moving and the speed of the passing frames blurs together to appear as if it were one solid impenetrable piece of matter. Logistically it’s difficult to imagine, but, after all, what good illusion wouldn’t be?
If I accept the idea of the closed door being an illusion my next question would be how can I best see through this illusion? If I’m able to see through it I may be able to better predict where it is I’m heading as I’m heading there rather than being faced with a closed door in my face that makes me feel like I’m stuck.
Or perhaps, the whole point of the door is that I should not be so preoccupied with what’s on the other side. Perhaps it appears closed to me for a reason. To say, “Stop obsessing about what’s on the other side. Look at where you’re at right now.”
I repeat this to myself over and over again in my head. “Be where you are right now. Be where you are right now. Be where you are right now.” I no longer see the door anymore, or at least it has left my present awareness completely. Then without grabbing a handle or knob, without pushing or prying or turning a key, I am on the other side of the door. I still don’t see anything. My goal is no longer to know what’s on the other side. I no longer care. It doesn’t matter to me. Without even opening my eyes I know with certainty that the door is now behind me or perhaps I am behind it. Temporal space is relative and I have no point of reference. I exist in all times as much as I exist in this moment of now. This moment of now is all times and all times are now. To contemplate and fantasize seems such a meaningless exercise. Excessive thinking only takes away from experiencing the only true reality which is right where I am all times and where I am is not determined by the door. The door is only a tool to remind me that I must keep moving forward (through the door) but at the same time to not aspire to see beyond it to that which no man can accurately know without going insane.