freezing outside an unlocked door

Fife Photography || Norman, OK - Photographing happy people since 2006

Today is a first at The Best Advice So Far blog: a guest post. Why? Well, first, because it’s a great post. Second, my new friend Dustin asked – said he felt it reflected the ideas and ideals contained in The Best Advice So Far – and I agreed. Third, I can’t talk about trying new things if I’m not willing to … er … well … try new things. Lastly, he asked; and given the post he’s written, I wanted to prove that some doors open with a simple chance taken.

Enjoy today’s guest post by Dustin Fife. Leave a comment (which we’ll both read and reply to). And please hop on over to his site to check out what he’s got going on there. (You just may see a post from me sometime in the future, as well.) You can also check out his Amazon.com page HERE.

Guest Post by Dustin Fife:

Let’s jump right into the story, shall we? (I’m not a fan of introductions, after all).

My lovely wife, Amber, was prego-nissimo with Aspen and we had one of them regular ol’ checkups. Trouble was, her appointment was going to be right when the bus dropped off Corban (our oldest).

No biggie, right? We called a good friend of ours (Lisa) and asked her if she could watch the boys while we did our whole preggo-wellness-check-thingy.

Appointment comes and goes without incident. (Boring story so far, huh?) Amber picks me up from work, intending to drop me off where my truck is parked at the bus stop. (Remember that–both our cars are not at home).

On the way home, Amber drove down I-35 while I lounged in the passenger seat.

Then the call came.

It was Lisa, the sitter. Amber picked up the phone.

“Hi,” Lisa said. “Is it normal for Corban not to be home yet?”

Amber’s eyes widened. “He’s not there?”

Her voice was laced with tension.

Of course, I didn’t hear what Lisa said, but I had all the information I needed to set me into a panic. My gut twisted and I went into terror mode–envisioning every horrific scenario possible, including several that would make national news.

“Let me call you back,” Amber said.

Then there was this moment of silence–dark and agonizing and terrorizing.

“Call the school district,” she said. “Call the neighbors. Call the bus dispatcher.”

I rip my phone from my pocket and start dialing. Our minivan filled with noises like Grand Central Station.

“Did the bus leave on time?”

“Did you see him enter the bus?”

“Did you see Corban?”

“Did you see Corban?”

“Did you see Corban?”

No.

I don’t remember.

No.

Holy Hannah of terror.

Meanwhile, in Norman Oklahoma…

Corban Fife sat on the door step in front of his house. Just as he’d done for the last forty-five minutes. Where were Mom and Dad? Mom’s car was gone. Dad’s truck was gone. Why wouldn’t they be home?

It was all so very strange to young Corban Fife.

Strange indeed.

The door behind him creaked and a woman emerged. He knew her, didn’t he? Wasn’t she one of Mom’s friends from Church. What was her name?

“There you are!” she said. She let out a long breath and placed her hand on her chest. “My goodness. Where have you been?”

“Right here,” Corban said. For 45 minutes, he wanted to say.

“Why didn’t you just open the door?” she asked.

“I…” Corban trailed off. “I thought it was locked.”

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma City.

Amber’s phone buzzed. “It’s Lisa,” Amber said.

I watched, holding my breath, saying a silent prayer.

Amber sighed and her shoulder’s relaxed. “Thank goodness.”

Relief washed over me like a warm shower after a cold day. He was okay. He was found.

He was home.

An Allegory

Once the oppressing nerves relaxed, I almost laughed. Really? That kid was sitting outside for almost an hour and he didn’t even try to open the unlocked door? How sad! How depressing!

And yet…don’t I do that?

How many of us have not even tried to do something we’ve always wanted to do because we perceive that that door is locked to us?

Best Advice So Far: How many of us have not even tried to do something, because we perceive that door is locked to us?

“I’d love to learn how to fix my own car…but it’s too complicated.”

“I’d love to become a writer, but I don’t know how to write.”

“I’d love to get in shape, but I have bad genetics.”

“I’d love to write my own music, but I don’t even know how to begin.”

“I’d love to … but … ”

What’s stopping you? Really? Is it an actual obstacle – or only a perceived one? I’m not one of those cheesy motivational speakers who will tell you that you can do anything you want to do. I’m a realist. But there’s a fine line between being realistic and living beneath your potential.

Best Advice So Far: What's stopping you? Is it an actual obstacle – or only a perceived one?

This allegory has remained with me since that day. How many times have I refused to try something because I perceived that door was “locked”?

And you know what? Maybe it is too complicated. Maybe you don’t have enough time. Maybe it’s not a good fit.

Or maybe that door is completely unlocked, just waiting for you to turn the handle.

Who knows?

Best Advice So Far: Maybe that door is completely unlocked, just waiting for you to turn the handle.

It’s a choice. Make that choice and see what happens. Couldn’t hurt. Right?

What have you always wanted to try? What are your perceived “locked doors”?

Tell us ’bout it. 🙂

Dustin Fife: writer of science fiction and inspirational stories about everyday peopleHi! I’m Dustin. I am a novelist, podcaster, YouTuber, and blogger. I write science fiction, as well as stories about everyday humans with everyday struggles. (Think “Humans of NY” meets Chicken Soup for the Soul.) I’d love you to visit my website and read some fantastic stories, or subscribe to my weekly podcast. I’m looking forward to connecting!
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About Erik

Erik is an author, speaker, blogger, facilitator, people lover, creative force, conversationalist, problem solver, chance-taker, noticer and lover of life. He lives in the Boston area. "It's more about writing lives than writing pages." View all posts by Erik

77 responses to “freezing outside an unlocked door

  • Are we afraid to hope? | Dustin Fife

    Linked from post “Are We Afraid To Hope.”

    Like

  • jenanita01

    Reblogged this on Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie and commented:
    so very true…

    Liked by 2 people

  • Sean P Carlin

    Terrific piece, Dustin — you share Erik’s talent for conveying a “little life lesson” through a very compelling personal narrative. I hope this won’t be the last we read from you at The Best Advice So Far…!

    Liked by 2 people

  • Eric Klingenberg

    Thanks a really inspiring article. For me it would have been writing now I’m glad I pushed at that door.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Sally

    I thought this was an excellent post. It was also exactly what I needed to read today! This line in particular resonates with me.
    “But there’s a fine line between being realistic and living beneath your potential.”

    Thank you for your story and insight!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Erik

      I say what’s the worst that could happen if we try something that “isn’t realistic”? It doesn’t happen? So what! It’s not happening right now. So might as well give it a shot. Most of the modern technologies we take for granted weren’t “realistic” (in fact, they were “fiction”) not all that long ago, but someone decided “Let’s give it a shot!”

      Liked by 1 person

    • dustinfife

      Thank you, Sally. I think I had a light bulb moment a few years ago. I was working in a job I didn’t like, doing work very different from what I *knew* I was good at, and yet I didn’t see a way out. I remember thinking, “What would the Dustin Fife of ten years ago think of what I’ve become?”

      It was a terrifying thought and it spurred me into action. I’m not there *yet*–but I know where I’m heading. Along the way, LOTS of unlocked doors have been waiting for me, ones that I didn’t see before. (And a couple of locked ones too that required some pushing a shoving). But, in the end, it’ll be worth it. (And so far, it’s VERY worth it).

      Liked by 1 person

  • Queen_Cassiopeia

    Great post as always Dustin.
    You have a point about making choices.
    I believe people including me should have the guts to make a choice and not let our fear paralyse into doing something that matters to us.

    I also believe that we are standing or sitting outside the door that is unlocked and we have yet to make a choice to open it and view the other side.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Erik

      Hi, Cassie. I wonder, when you said “including me,” is there a particular door you have been standing outside due to fear of “the other side”? Sometimes, just saying it out loud can help conquer it (and it allows others to add perspective). Thanks for stopping by today.

      Liked by 2 people

    • dustinfife

      Exactly! I don’t know if you listened to the podcast (if not, check it out here: itms://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dustin-fife-podcast/id1047488325?mt=2://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/dustin-fife-podcast/id1047488325?mt=2). But, while talking to my son on the cast, it came out, mid-podcast that my son was *scared* of what he’d find in the house (robbers or something like that). He remained outside, not *just* because he made a faulty assumption, but also because he was afraid of what was behind that door.

      It sounds like you barged in anyway 😉 And we totally need to do that! We totally need to barge into the doors that stand in our way.

      Liked by 2 people

  • Cleo

    Excellent post, and it is true that many of us meet “the locked door” challenge in our lives all the time. I almost didn’t go to medical school because I thought I would fail at it, and sometimes it’s easier not to do something than it is to try to do it, and fail.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Erik

      Thanks for stopping by, Cleo. You bring up an interesting point: some doors we sit outside just long enough to say we made an appearance, for the sake of others. But we never intended to go in at all, out of fear or for some other personal reason. I’m glad you conquered your fear and opened the door.

      Liked by 1 person

    • dustinfife

      Or at least we *perceive* it’s easier. I’ve got a good friend that is in an entry level job because it’s “safe,” but it’s not what he wants to do. If he went back to school, yeah it would be hard, but he’d end up doing what he loves and for more money. I think, in the long run, the “harder” choice ends up becoming the easier choice.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Rod Thorell

    They say when one door closes another door opens. OR, you can grab the handle, turn and push. We forget that’s how doors work. Normal things become frightful obstacles when we concentrate on them instead of our goals.

    Liked by 2 people

  • edmondswriter

    Great post Dustin – such a simple lesson. It’s easy to forget that if you’re waiting for that door to open, you might be there an awfully long time 😀 Gotta try it for yourself.

    On a side note, Erik I love those little tweety box things in the post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Erik

      Those “little tweety box things” are something I whip up in Illustrator each week. I wanted them to look a certain way, so I … er … pushed open my own door to make it happen. 😀 Thanks for stopping by and please feel free to poke around here or come back any time.

      Liked by 1 person

    • dustinfife

      Yep. Barring tornados (which aren’t *that* common in Oklahoma), doors tend to remain shut unless we open them 😉

      (Although I did just fix my truck door because it wouldn’t stay shut).

      Liked by 2 people

  • rnmckinnon

    I see this kind of attitude online so often, because I moderate a few groups. The one I know Dustin from (a group for bloggers) consists of three kinds of people:

    – the people who join on a whim then never show up again out of fear or a lack of prioritizing it in their life

    – the people who join and do not read the guidelines or learn from the organized threads of knowledge, instead posting something along the lines of “I DON’T UNDERSTAND WEBSITES, I NEVER WILL, HELP PLEASE”

    – aaaand the best people. The people who open that door that the two prior people believed was locked. They read our guidelines, they read the old threads, they approach the group as a resource for their learning and a community of like-minded people. And if they ask questions, they’re new and interesting and spark intelligent discussion.

    Great post, Dustin. Thanks for being the third person 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  • Robin

    I love the metaphor! I have often felt strangled by the “what ifs”. I went a good year or so without telling people I was writing a book because “what if” it’s no good, “what if” I don’t secure an agent, “what if” I fail miserably? Will I be laughed at, ridiculed, embarrassed, etc? But thankfully, for me, with age came self-confidence. My close friends and family are the only opinions that matter and they will always support me. Attitude is a choice I make! I still live with the “what ifs” – what if my book is a success? What if I secure an agent? What if it is as good as I think it is? What if? The possibilities are endless…

    Liked by 1 person

  • Anonymous

    This reminds me of the advice my Dad gave me quite often as a kid. He gave me a picture of a darkened gym with a basketball hoop and a ball. The caption said, ‘You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” That was his motto, and it has stuck. It never hurts to try. Applies to everything in life when it is a worthwhile, uplifting goal or objective (obviously this wouldn’t apply to drugs, etc.).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Erik

      Your Dad definitely gave you a good one, there. Glad it stuck. And I do think it applies to things like drugs (though the basketball in a dark gym poster would have to change). The concept with vices is that if you never try them even one time – they’re chances of taking you down are zero percent.

      Liked by 1 person

    • dustinfife

      The thing with basketball is that you can always pass it off to somebody else who might be better than you. With our own lives, we don’t always have that option. I can’t rely on somebody else to make me successful.

      Liked by 1 person

  • D. Wallace Peach

    Great allegory and lesson in there, Dustin. A wonderful guest post. My problem isn’t really that I think the door is locked. It’s that I’m too lazy to check. 🙂 Ha ha. Have a great day.

    Liked by 2 people

  • Amber

    Love this. Glad to have found a new blog to read. Im biased since Corban is my son, but I love the outcome of the story– it was an especially scary experience. I am grateful he was safe.

    And I love the insights Dustin shared. Too often I am paralyzed by my perceived vision of outcomes. I stop before I even start. I didn’t think I was afraid of anything when I was younger, but now I realize I am, and it holds me back. I love articles that make me feel the momentum to start. Just start. Then it rolls into progress.

    Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Jed Jurchenko

    It’s funny, given the opportunity, I could see one of my kiddos making a similar mistake 🙂 This is such a great story and the perfect illustration too.

    I know that when it comes to writing and blogging, I took longer to get started than needed. I assumed the door was closed, locked, and double-bolted. Then, about two years ago, I listened to a podcast and connected with a friend about this. Both suggested that if I wanted to write, I should. The next morning, I sat down at the kitchen table, and began to type. It’s amazing just how fast that door flung open.

    My only regret is having sat outside for so long. It’s true, the best time to start was yesterday, the second best time to start is right now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erik

      You’ve said, “I heard a podcast.” Above, Amber said that sometimes, all it takes to give her momentum to try is reading a post like this. It’s good to know, as a writer and blogger, that those words we’re putting together “at the kitchen table” – are making a difference, isn’t it, Jed (and Dustin)?

      Liked by 1 person

      • dustinfife

        It’s always amazing to me that it does make a difference. I think a lot of us are crippled by self doubt and don’t think anything that we say has anything of any value. Apparently it does!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Jed Jurchenko

        Yes! And I had a conversation with another writer last week, who reported that some of his posts were virtually ignored during the first week or two, and gained some excellent engagement later on. It was a good reminder to me to not get discouraged quickly.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Erik

          I may have mentioned that comments didn’t start being “a thing” on my own site here until a year ago. So it was 3+ years of wondering what magical door I hadn’t pushed upon (wondering and trying new ones). In the end, I think just being consistent and engaging with others was what “worked.”

          Like

        • dustinfife

          Yeah, that’s the gut reaction of most bloggers. “Oooooh nooooooo. I posted seven minutes ago and nobody has visited my blog yet!! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!”

          We need to chill. Maybe it’ll go “viral,” maybe it won’t. One thing is certain–if you keep posting, it will grow. *That* is the important thing 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

    • dustinfife

      Same here! They always told me when I started writing that I needed to build a platform. That thought was terrifying to me, and yet it has become one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done.

      Liked by 1 person

  • authorheatherwhite

    My locked doors are mainly things that would allow me to get ahead. Become a supervisor and then manager. Get published. Sometimes there’s a gatekeeper to those doors.

    But I feel you on your story! We’ve misplaced the little one in the house before. Is there anything scarier in the house than the sound of silence from a toddler?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Erik

      Glad you’re here today, Heather. In keeping with the “locked door” analogy, I’ve found that sometimes you have to scan the current locked door for the sign that says “USE OTHER DOOR.” What I mean by that is that, if you’ve been banging on the same door and doing the work that should open it (like moving up at a job), maybe it’s time to look into other opportunities that may have more open doors.

      Another example: I spent a few years trying to just get agents or publishers to look at my book, let along decide whether it was a fit for them. But I kept getting silence even to query letters, or the same feedback: “You need to have a verifiable audience of 50 – 100,000 people, verified, who are avid fans and will buy a book the day it comes out, or most publishers can’t take new writers anymore.” I saw these people as the gatekeepers. So I walked toward a different door and, with the help of others (like Jed, who commented above), became aware that self-publishing has changed drastically, and in ways that favor the writer. Now my first book is out and garnering good attention and traction.

      Again, if you’ve tried a certain door, and nothing works to open it, find a new door. There are endless new doors out there that will open for you if you decide to be persistent.

      Liked by 2 people

    • dustinfife

      And that’s always the case – these locked (OR unlocked) doors always lead to something better. We just have to give it a shot!

      Liked by 2 people

  • Vanessa-Jane Chapman

    Aside from the point you were making, I love the Corban story – we so often do this with kids, don’t tell them about changes to arrangements, and forget that they don’t just behave like zombies, they have a brain and may make different choices based on things that seem different, i.e. in this case, your cars not being there so it’s reasonable to assume that no one was home!

    In terms of the main point you were making though, it really reminded me of that horse picture, have you seen it? –

    Liked by 2 people

    • Erik

      Thanks for stopping by, Vanessa. This is Erik, the host of this blog. I’m glad you enjoyed this guest post by my new friend Dustin. I’m in agreement with you regarding kids and the way they think. As a lifelong mentor and teacher, I love the opportunities to find out what’s going on inside a kid’s head; often, it’s quite logical from their perspective and station in life, if we are patient enough to hear them out and not expect them to be 20 years older.

      Liked by 1 person

    • dustinfife

      Ha! Love that picture, Vanessa. So, so, so true sometimes 😉

      The funny thing about Corban’s story is that we *had* actually trained him in what to do if we weren’t home. We actually had him *practice* finding the hidden key, letting himself in, and going to the neighbor’s house.

      It wasn’t until the podcast (you can see that on this page: http://www.dustinfife.net/blog/welcome-friends-of-erik/) that I learned from Corban that it wasn’t just that he assumed we weren’t home, he was also scared that somebody had broken into our house. That makes the “allegory” even more interesting: sometimes we assume the door is “locked” (i.e., it’s too hard), while other times we’re scared of what’s behind that door.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vanessa-Jane Chapman

        I had a thing with my son a few years ago (he was 11), when he’d forgotten his key, on the same day as a rare occasion of his older sister staying late at school. He’d taken the initiative to go to a neighbour, but neither he nor the neighbour thought to leave a note for me, so when I got home later with his sister, we found an empty house and panicked. I phoned round his friends, and one friend said he had walked home with him and saw him walk down towards our house, which just scared me even more because I couldn’t imagine where he’d gone. It was a neighbour that we knew well, but the kids never went round there, so it hadn’t occurred to me that he would do that! In fact while I was phoning and looking, someone asked if I’d tried the neighbours and I said confidently that he wouldn’t go there because he’s too shy to ask them! I had actually gone as far as calling the police before someone helping me went to check with neighbours anyway and found him! So there was a big lesson there for me about not assuming I would know what he might or might not do.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Jed Jurchenko

      Love the horse picture 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  • dustinfife

    Thanks for the opportunity, Erik. It’s been fun!

    Liked by 1 person

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