I love the movie ‘Sliding Doors.’ I’m often surprised when people haven’t even heard of it, and yet it’s one of my all time favorites. Not because of any spectacular acting or an amazing soundtrack or great special effects. It’s that the truth behind the story resonates somewhere deep in my soul.
A woman is going home after work and she misses her train. The movie illustrates the power of a sliding train door — a door closed vs. a door open — by showing two tales: what happens if she misses the train and what happens if she doesn’t.
Her life is dramatically different depending on whether or not she makes it through that sliding door. In one scenario she catches her boyfriend cheating which starts her down a path of self-discovery and new opportunity. The other scenario, he doesn’t get caught and her life continues down that path.
I’ve had many a sliding door in my life, and while it’s not healthy to wonder “what if” I admit my mind has wandered down that path from time to time. It’s mind-blowing to think what a big impact something so seemingly small can make. It happens everyday though. I forget my phone and run back in the house making me 2 minutes late pulling out of the neighborhood. As a result I’m now behind a school bus slowing me down even more. The school bus rolls through the light just as it turns yellow but I stop. A little farther down the road I see a fender bender that just happened and I wonder if I hadn’t ran back in for my phone and got behind that bus could that have been me in that wreck?
It’s not always bad things either. Ever been one number away from winning an awesome door prize? You came into an event with your co-workers, you all accepted the door prize raffle tickets in random order as you came in, and the person who came in just in front of you won. If only you’d walked in just one person ahead it could be you.
There’s a few big sliding doors from my life that stick with me. They’re not seemingly random things like running late or the order of raffle tickets, but they’re the choices I made. What if I had made a different choice? A different choice of college. A different choice of career. A different choice of job. Et cetera. I know what happened when I chose the choice I chose. This. This life I’m living happened. But if I had made a different choice how different life may be. Maybe better, maybe worse, maybe kinda the same but kinda different.
There’s another movie that explores this same theme. ‘The Butterfly Effect.’ The main character has the supernatural ability to time travel and he tries to fix something that went wrong in the past. But every time he fixes it the way he thinks it should be it messes something else up. Everything that happens is interconnected so you can’t change one thing without changing it all
But we don’t live in movies with alternate realities. What’s happened happened and this is the only shot we get. It’s very interesting though to ponder the significance of every choice and every forgotten phone, every sliding door and the profound impact these seemingly small details can have.
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
— A Proverb