The Middle Way

Zen Spot #30 — mindfulness, meditation and the most common metaphor February 23, 2018 00:05

Neither front door nor back door

In matters of philosophy, or spirituality, the doorway is a common metaphor. It can represent a choice, the unknown, an obstacle, an opportunity and more. The materials from which the door is made can multiply the metaphor. A steel door with a deadbolt tells a different story than a pine wood door that can be opened with the wave of a hand.

I hadn’t walked by the threshold shown above in over twenty-five years. At that time, I was probably chasing a toddler and, as such, the door might as well have been invisible. Parenting requires focus and, if possible, mindfulness. For me, the latter was impossible at the time. 

My most recent experience as a passerby was during the time my elderly mother was having her hip replaced in the hospital that is only several hundred yards away. I chose to take a walk to calm my anxiety while she was in the operating room. 

I walk very slowly due to a chronic foot problem. Had I been able to move faster, I might have moved quickly past the doorway shown above. It is in the rear of a building and cars can be parked in front of it. Mindfulness escaped me at the time despite the world around me revolving in slow motion.

I was concerned that I might lose my mother — that I would return to the hospital and be told by the doctor that complications were overwhelming. In situations like this, the rush of adrenaline mainlines a laser focus that is imprinted on one’s brain forever. My mind was prepared for the news and preparing itself for the rush. I was pre-focused.

The artful wood button above the door is a metaphor above a metaphor and easy to spot if one is strolling and aware — or mindful. The door, itself, is flimsy. I didn’t open it, in part because I didn’t want to see behind it, much like I didn’t want to have a metaphorical door opened by the doctor upon my return.

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this essay that I realized the focus caused by my anxiety was a springboard for mindfulness. I was living almost completely in the moment, on the verge of a kind of suffering that can be addressed by mindfulness.

I’ll probably never return to this particular threshold, but I will almost assuredly return to this particular threshold.


About DharmaMechanic

An artist, entrepreneur and writer walking the Buddhist path, his art focuses on the Dharma Wheel. The four wheels shown above are among over 600 DharmaMechanic has created over the course of his career. Each has a unique story. If you’d like to read the story of these wheels or purchase a framed 20" x 20" ready-to-hang print, visit

What are The Four Noble Truths?

  1. The truth of suffering
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering

What is The Noble Eightfold Path?

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right action
  4. Right speech
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

What is a Dharma Wheel?