Doors and Windows

I normally dislike folksy truisms, but one in particular that I do enjoy is “God never closes a door without opening a window.”

Tangent #1: Priming

Have you ever heard a new word, and then suddenly you hear it *everywhere?* The reason for that is the psychological effect called “priming.” Basically, you actually always heard that word at roughly the same frequency, but your brain wasn’t trained to listen for it, so it was filtered out as sensory noise, which is what happens to 99% of the sensory inputs that bombard you every day. You’d go crazy otherwise. Has anyone ever reminded you that you can feel your tongue inside your mouth? Ha, now you can’t get rid of it, can you?

The feeling of your tongue inside your mouth or how your socks feel against the soles of your feet or the sound of your refrigerator compressor or the sight of the tree outside your window moving in the wind are all things that your brain filters out. But when you get a reminder to pay attention to certain things, your brain (at least for a while) separates that particular thing from the noise. So instead of the word “eschew” fading into the background noise like it always does, your brain grabs it and shoves it into your consciousness and says “Hey, weren’t you just thinking about this? I grabbed random signals and connected them to the active neurons! You’re welcome!”

Tangent #2: Roses

“Stop and smell the roses,” is often advice given with the intended meaning of “hey, slow down your hectic life for a little bit and enjoy the simple experiences that make you happy.” And that’s not bad advice. But to me, “Stop and smell the roses” has a different meaning, one I like even better. Which is: “Remember, there are roses.”

You passed those roses every day walking from your car to the office. They never weren’t there. But you missed them, because they were background noise. Maybe you don’t even like roses, but the reminder is important, because there are *lots* of things buried in that background noise that you don’t notice unless you make a conscious effort to stop, look around, and see what you don’t see. Or smell what you don’t smell.

Okay, back to Doors and Windows.

See, it’s not that God deliberately closes doors and opens windows simultaneously. The reason that it can seem like every time an opportunity closes to you another one opens is because there was *always* another opportunity opening. They’re opening all the time. But most of the time, you’re absorbed in your life and your brain is taking all the signs of those opportunities and filtering them out as noise, and having a door slammed in your face is the equivalent of life saying “Hey, remember that you can feel your own tongue!” Or to stop and smell the roses. It reminds you to look around and see what you didn’t see, which was that there was always an opportunity.

In the words of one of the 20th Century’s greatest philosophers:

“Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

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