Monday, 18 February 2008

portals in the fog

Walking through damp morning air to the metro I pass row upon row of domestic portals. Some are open, ready at any minute to expel inhabitants into the sponge like fog. Most are shut. Cocooning, shielding, barricading, hiding.

A blonde dreadlocked mademoiselle pushes two small uniformed children in front of her as she transits them from the warm reality within, to the coldness waiting outside. All are solemn. Au Pair, I think to myself and wonder if they love one another, or simply exist together through capitalist circumstance.

Later, at the end of the day I drag myself home. Fog replaced by sinking blue skies. I pass the same row of portals. Nearly all are shut, too many people shuffling past for them to so shamelessly bare their contents.

I return to the door of the solemn faced trio. A chic, pert woman of middle age manoeuvres her bicycle past the two small children now tumbling out of the door. The dreadlocked mademoiselle is leaving. Her face is still solemn as she firmly holds the straps of her backpack on either side of her breasts. The children plaintively call out farewells in French as the middle aged woman tries to simultaneously push the bicycle and their little bodies back inside. They are throwing goodbyes as I turn the corner. The dreadlocked girl does not turn to catch them.

In the new street I stop for a moment and wonder about portals.

We spend much of our day moving through doors and gateways, moving from one scene to another, one world to another. But how often do we take notice of these transitions?

Sometimes are forced to notice because the world beyond requires ritual before inclusion. There are demands for tickets, invitations and documentation. For proof of eligibility.

Our burning needs for money or belonging outweigh the intrusions that are made to our bodies and our property as we are irradiated, inspected, invaded, and finally allowed to pass through into the new world.

But what about all the other portals? The gap spaces between realities that we unconsciously pass through in our homes, our workplaces, in our communities? There are rituals in different cultures to mark these points of transition. We knock, we bow, we take off certain items of clothing or remove our shoes, but often there is nothing. Nothing that marks the changes between one reality and another.

So, what would it be like to live mindful of portals? We could mark points of transition with a split second of awareness. We may acknowledge the privilege of being (sometimes inadvertently) shown another families world by sending good thoughts their way. We may simply pause slightly as we move from one scene in our lives to another. Letting go of what was there and welcoming what is to come.

I ponder these thoughts for a few moments as I continue on to my apartment block. As I dive into my bag to find my keys I smile at my door, take a breath and prepare for the next shift in my reality.

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