Friday, February 15, 2013
I have been mired in a writing slump for the past several months. The reason is diabolically simple: I only want to write about Annie. However, I have made an agreement not to do so, because she is uncomfortable being the subject of my prattling. Therefore, in an effort to snap out of my [writing] funk, I have decided to adopt the strategy that many bloggers employ during the month of April, and begin an A-Z adventure. Today’s letter is D, for door. What? It’s not April? Sue me.
Marguerite de Angeli wrote a novel for young readers called Door in the Wall. I taught it for many years while working in the middle school. Succinctly summarized, this novel used the “door in the wall” as a metaphor for overcoming one’s obstacles that are encountered in this journey called life. Like most people, I have encountered my share of doors, once I emerged from childhood to adulthood, the most imposing of them, my experience in the military.
However, prior to militarily case-hardened, steel door, there is one other I’d like to touch on; rather, it was a group of “Doors,” headed by the late Jim Morrison, et al. The rock and roll band, The Doors, burst on the national scene, circa 1967, ushering in a period of the music industry, arguably the most significant in history. It is merely coincidental that both the Doors, and I, hailed from the Los Angeles area. They could have easily emerged on the East Coast, or the mid-west. The fact that I saw them in concert, in the Hollywood Bowl, sometime in 1968, is irrelevant, because a band on tour, would have been likely to make that stop, no matter what its city of origin was.
I loved The Doors and still enjoy hearing their music. I mention The Doors, because the late sixties marked the transition from the early rock and roll of Elvis and other early sixties artists, to the more modern era, represented at that time by such diverse bands as Jefferson Airplane, Cream, The Moody Blues, Jimi Hendrix, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Grateful Dead, and a myriad of others. I was more than happy to charge through this door, into more contemporary music.
When I was drafted in 1972, the last year that the draft existed, I was a very sheltered kid, having been raised in a large family, with the blanket of security which often exists in this type of setting. However, the nice drill instructors did not ask that we perform the necessary tasks to get through boot camp-they demanded it. So I was prodded through this doorway into my future, whether I liked it or not. The only other option available to me, was a route that went through Canada, and there was no way I could ever have done that. At least I knew that if I could survive the drill instructors, my time in the military would be limited to less than two years.
For the next forty years, except for the G.I. Bill, when I thought of the military, it was with bitterness and contempt. However, beginning last August, I have applied for Veterans health care, and have been astonished at the quality of care I have received. Yes, it takes time to get that appointment to replace my bifocals, and yes, I have to take potluck, when it comes to getting an appointment for an immediate problem, but when one has no other options, the VA starts to look pretty good.
It’s not as though I planned to have no health care; the school district simply does not provide insurance, longer than five years after one retires. So the door that has opened for health care, is the result of that two-year period, that was so dismal, so long ago. Who’d have thought it?
People create doors for a multitude of reasons. By getting my teaching credential, to keep the little school house on the mountain afloat, I propelled myself into a career of teaching down in the school district. Here was a door to my sons’ educational process, one that I cherished at the time, and one that continues to fill me with satisfaction, that I was able to be such an integral part of such a critically important part of their education.
I’ve had doors slammed in my face. Haven’t we all? But the ones that I have managed to pass through, have left me feeling as though walls were created to be accessed. It’s part of the human experience. So the next time you encounter a locked and bolted door, don’t give up and walk away. Get a Sherman tank and blast your way through. You never know when that locked door will come back to provide you with a key to survival, as the VA health care system is doing for me.