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The Closed Door


Yesterday, I was taking the train from NYC to Rhinecliff, NY.  My two small children and I got on the crowded train and I began scanning the car looking for one of those few sets of end seats where 4 seats face each other and my children and I could sit together.

An older woman was sitting in one of these 4-somes all alone and I asked her if she would mind if we sat there.  From the look on her face, she clearly would mind and mumbled some excuse about how there wasn’t much leg room and blah blah blah.  I could feel my blood pressure rising.

I began judging her in my mind.  If I were sitting in a 4-some, I would absolutely have gotten up so that a mother and her two children could sit in it and I thought she should too.  We had to stand there next to her for a few more minutes as my son was using the bathroom and my irritation was growing.  I can’t believe she’s not getting up, I thought to myself.  The woman in the next row caught my eye and we both rolled our eyes.

When my son came out of the bathroom, I gathered up our bags and as we walked past her, I said with a judgmental stare, “I hope you enjoy your 4 seats.”

My children walked down the aisle and it was a full train.  I couldn’t even see two seats together let alone three.  We kept walking.

Then, we entered the cafe car and found a free table.  My kids and I jumped into it.  This is great, I thought.  We had a table top so my daughter could color.  And this made it much easier for me to lay out all the snacks that I had brought for the ride.  This table seat was perfect, much better than a 4-some of seats.

I began talking to the woman sitting at the table across the aisle.  She was going to a 5-day silent retreat with Adyashanti at the Omega Institute.  He is an American-born spiritual teacher who has devoted his life to the awakening of others.

She shared his book, The End of Your World, with me and I realized that although I wasn’t attending this spiritual retreat, I was already taking the class.  Thank goodness that grouchy woman hadn’t moved so that I could sit at this wonderful table next to this new friend.

When the door was closed, I had a choice to embrace reality and keep moving until I found an open door.  My thoughts that the woman should move for us only caused me suffering and didn’t change anything.

When the doors are closed around you, move forward gladly, knowing full well that an open door is only a few footsteps ahead.

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