Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Door

...even if
is there
go and open the door.
At least
there'll be
a draught.
-From the poem 'The Door' by Miroslav Holub

Spouse and I watch next to no television, and what we do enjoy comes from DVDs in our collection. We have a number of television shows, among them an English show called 'Black Books.'
Bernard is the bitter Irish bookseller in London; Manny is his easy-going, more amiable assistant. They have a friend named Fran and they make a rash bet with her that, by the time she returns from a party, they will have written a children's book. A bestselling one, at that. She claims that they could never do it; they insist they can and set to work immediately. They do, in fact, write a children's book, although it is after dawn by the time they finish. As it is a short piece of writing, we the audience get to hear the pair read the book out loud and we can even see the illustrations that Manny drew. It is a remarkably wonderful book- should I ever find it languishing on a bookshelf I would buy it without hesitation- and they are thrilled to think about the prospect of Fran's face when she comes back and finds that she lost the wager.
They begin, while fueled with alcohol and dizzy with lack of sleep, to talk about life after the book is famous. They will, Bernard says, be subjected to media frenzy and pestered for a follow-up. Manny's face changes as he understands that their lives will never be the same again. Bernard continues to ramble about how it may happen that they have more than one house, which would
cause untold complications should their favourite item of clothing be in one and they in the other.
It is my favourite episode of the show. I enjoy particularly their expressions as their new lives unfold before their eyes. Then:

Manny: I can't deal with it! I just want to live in my normal mansion with my
normal helicopter and my normal yacht! Is that too much to ask?
Bernard: No! Manny, we must undo this thing! It has to go!
Manny: Yeah, you're right Bernard. It's our only chance of living a normal life!

They proceed to burn the book.

I want forever and always to cry at the screen- a habit I am not familiar with- and tell the pair not to do such a silly thing. There are pen-names available, I want to tell them. There is the remote possibility that they will not become as rich as they think. Maybe, just maybe, the follow-up book would be as excellent. But no, alas, the scene never changes and the book always ends up in ashes. Fran returns and asks if they wrote a book. They said that they did, but "then we had to destroy it, because it was too good." Quelle surprise, Fran does not believe them.
I find it delightful for its comedic element but I must admit that I find some truth in it, as there surely must be in everything. The duo are afraid to push forth with their work for fear of the possibilities it would entail, and the prospect of change. Most of us dislike change and we avoid it as well as we can.
We complain about everything: weather, job, money, neighbours, traffic, government and health. But what we would not do to hold tightly to all of that!
There is comfort in familiarity, and sanity in having something to complain about daily. Not only does it provide food for conversation, without which we might find ourselves stranded, it also shapes our known world and offers us some control- or so we like to think. Underneath our ritualistic bemoaning of ordinary life there lies the thought: "I could get out if I wanted to. I, however, exercise my power to stay right here, just as I am. They need me here."
Consider, though, that the rest of the world might be in need of some new talents and capability for genius. We could all apply for the position. We simply need to open the door and have a peek outside.

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