In the movie The Adjustment Bureau, a team of mysterious agents tries to prevent Matt Damon’s character David from being together with the love of his life. The agents have a book describing “the Plan,” the grand, cosmic scheme of things, supposedly written by God himself. According to this plan, disaster will ensue for David, his love Elise, and the entire world should the two be together.
Ironically, the agents use doors to keep closing gates for David. By wearing special hats, the agents can use any door to teleport to another location, thus thwarting David’s every move in trying to reach Elise. If fate has ever slammed the door in your face, you know what it feels like to have the Adjustment Bureau on your heels.
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us,” Hellen Keller once wrote. While forcing us to leave something behind, every door also leads to a new place. In David’s case, he would become the most powerful man in the world, and Elise’s future looks more than bright without him too. And yet…
“We never know what is on the other side of the door,” Matt Haig writes in The Comfort Book. “It may be a room similar to the one we are standing in, or it might be a room we have never seen before. It might not be a room at all. But we can never be sure.” That’s why doors are scary. We can’t see what we’re about to gain. All we know is what we’re giving up.
Sometimes, we look around the room we’re so familiar with, and we hesitate. We take our hand off the handle. “Do I really need to open this one? What if it’s Pandora’s box?” At other times, particularly those when we did find a wasteland rather than an oasis after taking our latest portal, we desperately cling to the handle of a door that’s long been closed. We rattle and shake and hit our flat hand against the wood, all to no avail. Like David, desperately trying to find his way back to Elise.
But was that door ever really locked? Haig believes few endings mean something is actually over: “Even though I have largely recovered from depression, the door is never quite closed.” It is “always slightly ajar,” he writes. Some doors are revolving. They transport us into the unfamiliar, but they still allow us to return. Sometimes, they even painfully try to pull us back.
Every ending contains a new beginning, because there are neither endings nor beginnings. Only doors. “Everything in front of us is defined by possibility,” Haig says. “And even if we end up somewhere we don’t want to be,” we should remember that “another door exists. And another beautiful handle, waiting to be turned.”
I don’t know if the Adjustment Bureau will breathe down your neck today. I don’t know where your next door will lead. All I know is that it is neither the end nor the beginning. It is a door to the future — and the only way to find out what’s behind it is to step through.