Sliding Doors

“There’s no where you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.”
John Lennon/Paul McCartney
All You Need Is Love

There is a new television show this fall season called Timeless, about three people who are sent back in time to chase an individual from current time who is interested in changing history for reasons that are not yet quite clear. It’s not a great show but the historical aspect of it is interesting.
The show reminded me of a 1998 movie called Sliding Doors, staring Gwyneth Paltrow. It’s about a woman who is fired from her job. When she leaves early and rushes out to catch her train, two scenarios develop. In the first she catches the train and comes home to find her boyfriend in bed with another woman. She dumps the boyfriend and eventually finds happiness with another man in her life. In the second scenario the door closes shut as she is about to board and she gets home after the woman has left. Eventually, her life becomes miserable as  the coming years are filled with questions of infidelity.

Life is like that, isn’t it.

We often think about the big decisions we’ve made that have led us to a certain job, or marriage, or a life choice we never saw coming. But it really is the smallest of actions or decisions that sometimes have the greatest impact on our lives.

A turn or phone call we make. A decision to leave early or late. Where we chose to live or go to school. Where we decide to sit in a car or on a plane, train or bus.

An invitation we accept or decline.

People we meet who will significantly impact our lives or those we have lost the opportunity to ever meet.

We can make ourselves crazy thinking about all the possibilities, opportunities gained or lost, but the truth is that many times we never know what may have happened if we had chosen another path or made a different decision.

History was made for a reason; whether it affects the world, our individual lives or both. People become heroes because they stopped for coffee on their way to work. Others saved or lost their  own lives for doing the same thing.

Is it really that arbitrarily simple?

Is life just a series of sliding doors?

Or is there no where you can be, that isn’t where you’re meant to be?

60 thoughts on “Sliding Doors

  1. socialbridge

    WOW, I have thought a good deal about this over the years and have concluded that some people are much more far-seeing than others and have a life plan set out from a relatively early age ( parents may play a big role in this by doing things that will ensure as little straying from the path as possible). Others ( including me) sort of muddle along without the bigger picture carved out.
    I suggest that those in the former group may well be successful but have to harden their hearts while the latter group are softer.
    For both groups, though, life events can dictate a lot e.g. onset of terminal illness at young age.
    Sliding doors is a very interesting concept.

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    1. George Post author

      I’m sure set life plans factor into this to a large degree but even those who have their lives set make choices that may change the course of their lives. Sometimes life events, like illnesses are also choices made earlier in life. Sometimes not. It’s all very interesting..:)

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  2. DailyMusings

    the eternal question George- is it all up to fate- or is it choice- or is the choice made because that is where fate wants us to go… and around and around. I look back and sometimes it really just had to have been the hand of fate that put me somewhere that changed my life- at least I think so. I loved that film-and in the end it is true- all you need is love. Great post

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  3. vanbytheriver

    So much to think about here. Sometimes, it’s all about timing…take the same circumstance at a different time, it can make all the difference. I’ve always believed that we end up where we were meant to be. I’ll go with Lennon/McCartney any day. ☺ Thanks for a thoughtful post, George.

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  4. Kate Crimmins

    There were two occasions when I did something that caused an unexpected reaction that was astonishing and altered my life. Both were small things that happed in less than a minute. They weren’t bad things either. Most of the time we don’t know how something small affects us. I try to be cautious but sometimes it’s just “meant to be.” Another story — a friend of mine crashed a wedding with an invited guest on the spur of the moment. She met her husband that night and the rest is history.

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    1. George Post author

      That story about your friend is what I’m talking about. A spur of the moment thing that changed his life. And your two instances… Just a moment that had long lasting implications. Cool stuff when you really think about it.

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      1. Kate Crimmins

        Actually it’s scary to think something so chance can change a life. I was supposed to also crash that wedding but declined for some reason (no not because I wasn’t invite, I was young then!). Maybe I would have met Sir Galahad.

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  5. Pistachios

    These are the sorts of thoughts that fill me with wonder, awe, and (hopefully) appreciation of where I am now. But you’re definitely right in saying that we could make ourselves crazy from thinking about all these possibilities!

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  6. Nancy

    Pretty profound thinking, George. Very true though. Sometimes the little things end up being the big things. An old friend of mine had that kind of awakening in HS when a friend was killed sitting in the passenger seat of a car that he had declined because he wanted to stay at a party a bit longer. For a while after, he questioned every little decision he made till he realized that it just doesn’t work that way. Do what you can do and make it count. That all we can do. (BTW I feel the same way about “Timeless.” The show is just okay but I love the history)

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    1. George Post author

      The car story resonates with me for the same reason. Several years back four boys from town were in a car accident. The driver and front seat passenger were killed and the two in the back survived. I always wondered if, as they were going to the car, someone yelled “shotgun.” Something as arbitrary as that changes so many lives forever. I can see why it bothered your friend for a while.

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  7. Ann Coleman

    That’s a question that has always interested me: whether or not our lives have a certain destiny that we can’t really control. If I were forced to take a stand, I would have to say that I believe in the randomness of the universe and agree that the smallest decisions or circumstances can have a huge impact on our life. But I do know people who believe that everything that happens is exactly what’s supposed to happen, and I have to say they don’t worry nearly as much as I do!

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  8. reocochran

    I liked “Sliding Doors” but also liked “Serendipity.”
    You know that the poem, ” The Road Less Traveled” was finished with a little sense of humor, George. He wrote that he may come back and try the other path someday.
    I think there is comfort in thinking “It just wasn’t meant to be,” but I also feel we can be more controlled in the way we tackle decisions. I have thought my choices weren’t always very smart. Then, when my Dad was dying of cancer he released me from feeling it had been “all my fault” how my life had gone. He said, “Trusting people can never be a wrong decision.” This helped to take a big weight off my shoulders. 🙂

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    1. George Post author

      Your dad was a very smart man..:)
      I can understand feeling comfortable in thinking ” it just wasn’t meant to be.” Sometimes we just need to to place some form of logic to occasionally illogical or difficult situations.

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  9. Hugh's Views and News

    I love your thinking behind this, George. I’ve always thought of it as all our lives are separate paths. Sometimes those paths cross and we meet. Some of those paths run side by side whereas others go off in a totally different direction. Sometimes we hit traffic lights that stop us for a moment. Then we come to signs that point us in a new direction. ‘What if’ are two words I’ve always been told to forget. However, some of us can’t forget and while we travel on our path we occasionally look back and wonder what would have happened if we’d taken that other turning on our path. They usually lead to positive thoughts, but I wonder if we’d made the other decision if it would have been all positive?

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    1. George Post author

      It’s a question that can make us crazy if we think about it too much. Whenever I wonder about this, I think of all the stories I heard after 9/11…all the people whose lives were saved because they stopped off for something that morning or overslept or decided to take the day off. Conversely, there are stories of others who wouldn’t normally have been there that day and the seemingly insignificant decisions that affected so many lives. I wondered how people lived with those thoughts in the time that followed.

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  10. Kim Gorman

    Very thought-provoking post, George. I’ve often thought about all these things. My issue with it all is that we simply can never know. I mean, if we missed getting killed or becoming a hero because we stopped for coffee, we’ll never know it. Yet I believe there are mysterious forces behind the scenes of our lives helping or not helping us along. I hope that movie is on Netflix. I want to see it now.

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  11. Nurse Kelly

    Great, thought-provoking post, George. I think about these things all the time. I don’t really believe in karma and sayings like “it was meant to be” because I’m a firm believer in creating your own life and working for it, not leaving things up to some imaginary fate. That said, I think educated choices are what make a difference, or at least as educated as we can make them. But sadly, sometimes that just isn’t enough, and I guess that’s where acceptance with grace comes in.

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  12. sportsattitudes

    A movie my wife and I “use” all the time when discussing “what if” scenarios…but we’ve never seen the film. It’s crazy because we’ve seen a ton of movies over the years. Not this one. I guess we went through the “wrong door!” I will admit to having been preoccupied at times with doing exactly what you note – thinking about paths taken and not, doors opened or left closed, etc. I don’t know how much – or any – of our lives are predestined…what happens if our free will decisions run counter to any amount of “plan” that might be instituted on our behalf? There is a theological concept one can be outside of God’s will but not his reach. Perhaps.

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    1. George Post author

      Like you, I try not to think about it too often. There is definitely religious and practical position we can take. Being religious myself, I wrestle with the idea of free will, predestination and this. Some things are beyond our ability to understand. I suppose that’s where faith comes in.

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  13. Barb Knowles

    Interesting post. I like your remark to a reader here that it’s really a circular question. I try to apply this philosophical (btw I’m not particularly philosophical) thought in instances where, for example, someone is driving like a maniac. Instead of flipping them the bird, I try to think maybe the woman is in labor and who am I to be enraged? Not so much that things are fated, but can be viewed from a different perspective. I will say, though, that I didn’t leap to Franz Ferdinand, lol.

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