Editor’s Note

One Way or Another, Unlock the Door

The Friday night before this issue was due to the printer marked the end of a long week of final touches on the pages you are now reading. I was looking forward to an uneventful evening with my family: Dinner was over, the table was cleared, a beverage was poured, and in my mind I felt the small appreciations finally rising to the surface of the otherwise deeply unsettling world in which we are living. Sometimes all you need is a little time to write and a comfortable chair in a quiet room. Or so I had imagined.

Then my son accidentally locked himself in the bathroom. In his defense the door is over a century old, its double-sided, warded lock requires a bitted key, and the mechanism shows its age, especially to a twelve-year-old who is accustomed to tapping squares of light on glass to unlock things. So, my mind reset to problem-solving mode. Step 1: Calmly explain to him, through the heavy wooden door, how far to insert the key and in which direction to turn it so the interior obstructions are moved and the bolt is withdrawn from the doorframe. Sadly, my attempts at calm were insufficient for my son, who, virtually house-bound for the past four months, now found himself trapped in the even tighter space of a small bathroom, and the twenty minutes of increasingly impatient instruction that followed came to naught. Step 2: Pass the key under the door and let Dad try it on his side. No luck. Step 3: Apologize for criticizing your son’s inability to do what you yourself are unable to do. Step 4: Unscrew the doorknob and metal faceplate of the lock. Sometimes a careful look inside and a deeper understanding of how something works leads to a solution; sometimes it doesn’t. Step 5: Get the ladder and attempt to climb through the second-story window into the bathroom. Alas, after climbing to the very top of the ladder, which one should avoid at all costs, I realized not only that the ladder is far too short, but also that the situation was leading me to progressively brash decisions, which was further demonstrated by Step 6: Tell your son to stand aside so you can kick in the door. Messy but effective. 

Forgive the extended metaphor, dear readers, but there is a time to write in a quiet room and a time to talk through a problem, to study it. There is a time to ask for help, a time to apologize, and a time to stand taller, reach higher. And, yes, there is a time to kick down whatever stands in your way.