Open Wide the Gates


This post is from a writing prompt, which you can try and leave your own in the comments. Here is the prompt: the gate is open. What does that me a for your dream?

When the gate is open, the dogs get out. When the gate is open, people can get in. But usually people I trust or who are supposed to be there. When the dogs get out, I have to leave everything behind and go chase them down, because the crazy neighbor is crazy. And his son is afraid of dogs. Even though my dogs never run to that crazy person’s house.

The gate being open is permission. Permission to run wild and far and fast. To catch the thing that is running away, or toward something or to follow it to the place where you have never been before.

Last week, as I was trying to get somewhere, late as usual, the dogs did get out. I ran down the street and around the corner, in my stupid high heel boots. Every time I got close to the dog, she ran away. Fast. That’s the problem with dogs. They have the mechanical advantage, what with four feet and all.

Finally, I cornered her in a vacant back yard and scooped her up. That dog is slender, but she is not light. I carried her a block back to my house. And cussed at her the whole way.

Because it was annoying and unhelpful and I was even more late, and it’s hard to run in heels, and because the grass was wet with melted snow and the dumb dog chasing made me sweat.

But I could look at it another way. I had to chase her. I couldn’t leave her to run wild out there alone. She’s not bright; she’d run into the street. Or maybe someone would snatch her up, and make her their own. (Which strictly speaking, wouldn’t bother ME so much as it would destroy a girl child who is mine.) Or she would get lost. Or or or. And so I had to run her down. Because she is ours. We take care of her.

And I scoop her up and I take her to safety. (And perhaps we fix the gate and train the dumb dogs, but that’s a story for another day).

You can’t always keep the dog in the backyard, either. The dog needs to get out, stretch her legs, run like a wild thing terrorizing the neighborhood (they don’t really do that…) They need to expand their lungs and feel the sun and the rain and the wind.

When a gate is open, it means escape and limitless borders. Because if you leave the gate open, you can’t control it. You can’t keep it safe.

But what is safe? What is mine? Can I own a dog, or a dream? Can a dream be a dream if it is not being pursued? Can I hope for the dream to reach the light of the street if I don’t open up the gate and let it out?

The other side of that coin, I guess, would be just exactly who left the gate open? If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: you gots to close the gate. Dammit. So, I suppose I fall into the Ecclesiastical idea: there is a time for everything: a time for the gate to be open and a time for the gate to be closed.

Allowing a new puppy to escape and go adventuring is much different than letting out a dog who knows her way home. OPening the gate too early can result in a smashed up dead baby dog. And nobody wants that. I think our dreams are tender and new like babies when we are first gathering up the courage to admit we have a dream and that it is wild and bold and beautiful and fun and scary.

But later, like where I am now, I will tell anyone my dream. Well. Not anyone. And maybe not all the details, but most of it. Or strong and fun parts of it. It’s a way to say, I’m doing this. And you can either get with me or get your little old self out of my way.

Gates are to keep in, or to keep out. The door is a means of access. It means that the gate is not a wall, or a fortress. That part of the intent is access. Not exclusion. And so the gate must be left open at some point.

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