As we grow older, we tend to shut ourselves down a little to life. Everyday knocks make us wary of being too open. We shut down because it is easier and safer and because it protects us from disappointment. As a result we look at our feet instead of lifting our eyes to the sky. We tread the hamster wheel of routine, which puts our heart and minds and souls into autopilot. And bit by bit we stop noticing the beauty of life – and the beauty of the unexpected.
My favourite word in this quotation by Emily Dickinson is ‘ajar’: I love that image. That rather than having the doors of our souls shut tight, double locked and on a security chain, we leave them a little open. We put an old shoe in the door. We let the breeze come in. We show the world that we’re open to it: to new encounters and conversations and ideas. And that is when, as Dickinson puts it, the ecstatic experiences, come flooding in.
As ever, my little girl, Tennessee Skye, is my teacher in this. Her soul isn’t ajar, it’s flung wide open. Every moment of every day she looks life square on and welcomes it with open arms. That’s why she learns so much and so quickly and why her life is marked by joy.
And so, as I make my way through this cold, dark month of February, I’m going to keep reminding myself to keep the door of my soul ajar, to recalibrate the details of my life to be open rather than closed. I hope you might join me.