What Lies Behind the Barrier of Doors
This set of doors are private doors that lead into the residential area of the Tianning Buddhist Temple. The public entrance is along a different wall and people pay to enter this temple which is an active temple and a tourist attraction. However, no tourists enter into this section of the temple grounds. When I stopped for the photo I was interested in the door handles which are actually quite common. I liked the look of these and the peeling paint on the doors. What I didn’t see at first was that the doors didn’t fully shut out the inner courtyard from scrutiny. I knew that the crack was there, but thought that it wouldn’t wreck the photo too much. And, if it did there was always a lot more similar photos already in the archives.
Yesterday, when looking through the latest set of photos, I noticed that the opening drew my attention and held it. It was as if the rest of the door was inconsequential. In spite of the lack of focus behind the door, it became the centre of my attention. It was then that I realised that the door was a visual metaphor for persona, the barrier that keeps the outer world, outside and thus allowing the ego to protect its fragile sense of self. The ego controls the doors, has several sets of doors which present purposeful masks and identities to the world. However, unknown to the ego is how time and the energy it takes to maintain the fiction of the doors, the various personae. I know that I was oblivious to the effect that life was having on my identities of teacher, coach, parent, counsellor and athlete. Like these doors, the masks for these identities were beginning to fray on the edges, showing cracks that hinted of something else behind those cracks.
And then I saw this image again and saw a different story, one that talked to my sense of a personal journey into the unknown, the journey of individuation. With my ego fracturing and the realisation that I needed to do some serious work to rescue my self in terms of core identity, purpose and meaning, I caught a glimpse of a new journey, a new destination. There was just enough light showing through my own cracks that served to act as a beacon, asking me to enter. The light behind the cracks became a compelling voice and I knew that it was a call to me to begin my own Odyssey like some modern day Odysseus in search of my real home, my real being.
It amazes me what I sometimes see in a photograph – I seem to slip out of an objective space and enter an alternate reality. And for this, I am thankful.