Even though Jim Morrison was a seriously troubled man with a severe alcohol dependency, there were definitely things he said and wrote that can make a person stop and say “hmmmmmm.” The above quote is one of those things, at least for me, being as how I am on anti-psychotic medication for mood stabilization and partly, I think, to treat the symptoms of PTSD. Something my father told me once is practically a perfect mirror of this quote (this was back before he decided to “disown” me). He taught Histology (study of cells) and Gross Anatomy (dissection for anyone who doesn’t know). We were talking about the mechanism by which psychotropic medication, specifically anti-depressants that work directly on Norepinephrine, Dopamine, Seratonin, and Monamine Oxidase, and he said that they are like keys to a lock. They mimic the chemical composition of the neuro-transmitter, and plug themselves into the receptor thereby increasing the supply of the naturally produced neurotransitter. However, he said something interesting in the rather dry explanation of how these drugs work, he said that when the artificial molecule locks into place, it is like a door closing. He said that scientists do not really know how these neuro-transmitters really work, but that when they do lock into place, it is like one door closing leaving another one to open.
I was thinking about this today (my birthday of all days). The above quote describes everything. It is all encompassing. There are things that are known and accepted without question like the speed of light, the amount of force it takes to achieve orbit around the Earth, the amount of force it takes to leave Earth’s atmosphere, the fact that one sock will always go missing when you do laundry. These things are known to be true, and are not challenged. Then there are things unknown and ideas about them are in constant flux. The existence of Dark Matter to explain the discrepancy in the weight of known matter and the actual weight of the Universe, how psychiatric medication really works, how gravity holds our planet in place, why Einstein’s interest in time travel was never really explored, why some people are predisposed to addiction and/or mental “interestingness”, how much influence genetics has, how people assign value to things like time and money. These are things that are not known, at least to me. In between these known and unknown things are the doors (of perception, from William Blake’s poem).
Exactly how does one open the doors of perception? Jim Morrison would have said with the aid of hallucinogens….. having experienced that type of perceptual shift, I would say he and Timothy Leary were right. However, I have noticed that while one is influenced by whatever hallucinogen one chooses, one can understand the whole Universe, solve all world problems, and know the true meaning of life, but you better write it all down because all that “knowledge” will be gone the next day.
I think if you let it, love can also open the doors between the known and the unknown. But it is a different type of known versus unknown. In this case, what is known while one is single is completely different to what one must allow to become known. Love is a huge unknown that requires huge leaps of faith, a letting down of defenses, “allowing” yourself to receive and give love. If you cannot allow yourself to receive love, you will not be able to return it in kind. If your defenses remain intact, your “lens” will never shift. You will end up single but with somebody. If you cannot “allow” yourself to know what it is like to be loved, your ability to “allow” yourself to love in return will be paralyzed. Your whole paradigm has to shift from one type of knowing to another, and this requires opening doors within yourself. You have to open all your doors to experience love while closing off others. Love is one of the greatest of unknowns.
There are many different kinds of doors, but they all have one thing in common: a shift in thinking or in your world view. Intellectual knowledge of what is accepted to be true and that which is still “in testing” involves one set of doors. In order to continue exploring and pursuing the intellectual requires an opening of the creative mental doors, a shift in the paradigm of what has been proven true and what is still under observation. One has to be able to have new ideas, new ways of thinking about the unknown. I really think that human emotions are the greatest knowns and unknowns. Anger, sadness, hostility, one can usually attach a “known” source to emotions such as those. Love, attraction, like, those are unknowns. When asked, most people cannot explain why they love someone, they just do. When asked why they are attracted to someone, most people do not know that either. What has happened is the doors between the known and unknown are open, and one’s perception has shifted in order to open those doors. If they stay shut, love is not received in a positive way, it goes unrequited. And one cannot love another back if those doors remain shut. All human discovery, emotion, thought, and ideas have involved the opening of the doors between the known and the unknown. It has to be that way for anything to happen. Discovery does not occur without rethinking a “known” idea. Emotions such as love will not flourish without opening one’s defenses. Creative thought will not occur without opening the door to a different way of viewing a problem or a solution. New ideas will not flourish without a shift in one’s “lens” or allowing oneself to be open to a different paradigm. Everything relies on those doors of perception to open in order to advance anything from science to human relations.
The doors of perception are in each of us. All we have to do is let them open, and wondrous things can occur. However, it can take a rather large leap of faith to allow oneself to open one door and close another. Sorry for the weird post. I have been thinking way too much since the divorce filing.