Crossing Thresholds and Then Forgetting
When I was in England last month I found myself photographing a lot of thresholds – doors that were open or doorways to another space.
I wasn’t interested in photographing the beautiful closed doors that I saw; rather it was the open doors that caught my attention. The open doors were much more friendly, as if I were being invited in as the spaces beyond beckoned.
The first photograph was taken in Hooton Pagnell, a tiny village that we were passing through. Hooton Pagnell is an estate village, with many of the homes still owned by the estate’s owner.
This open door caught my eye and I asked if we could turn the car around so that I could get out and have a better look. The doors lead to Hooton Pagnell Hall, the estate’s main house which dates back to the 14th century.
I crossed the threshold to have a quick look at this privately held space and was greeted by a large, gabled house flanked by trees. Immediately transported back to another time, I half expected to see a knight rounding the corner.
The bottom photograph was taken at Cannon Hall, a large 17th century country house now turned museum. Cannon Hall sits on an parkland that includes waterfalls, lakes, and a Victorian “pleasure garden.” To call it a garden is an understatement; one can have a wander (I’ve adopted this word) around an amazing variety of flowers, shrubs and trees – including an impressive collection of pear trees.
Walking through the doorway I was met by the sight of the expansive rolling green lawn dotted with trees.
One day after my return from England I walked into a room to speak with someone and experienced what we’ve all experienced – I forgot what I wanted to say.
As I stood there trying to remember, the person laughed and said, “Don’t feel bad. Don’t you know that walking through a door makes us forget? Really – there was a study done on it.”
So, apparently crossing thresholds makes us forget! I looked up the study which was conducted at the University of Notre Dame.
The lead researcher, Gabriel Radvansky, wrote, “Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an ‘event boundary’ in the mind which separates episodes of activity and files them away.” The results of the study suggested that passing through a doorway causes the mind to file away memories.
Someone compared crossing a threshold to a ending a scene in a play or movie.
Maybe crossing the tradition of crossing the threshold as a newlywed is meant to cause us to forget our life before the marriage as we enter into a new phase of the relationship.
Maybe my attraction to these thresholds in England was a signaling to me as I begin some new things in my life.
Maybe when that one door closed and another one opened that we were meant to move fully through that open door – not straddling the threshold with one foot in the past and one in the present.
Maybe the cliche is true – that if we were meant to look behind we would have eyes in the back of our head.
Maybe we are meant to look forward and forget the past – and these thresholds and doorways are here to help us on our journey.
Walk on – and be well.