When I was a younger, thinner man, I dabbled in spelunking, which means cave exploration. It appealed to me for a several reasons. While some people suffer from claustrophobia, I am a claustrophile – I love enclosed places. I also love nature, and exploring. Spelunking was a fascinating way to explore nature and have a chance to literally be the first human to set eyes some remarkable places. It’s strenuous and dirty though, and I gradually stopped crawling, rafting and rappelling through caves.
That aspect of “what’s over here?” has never left me. All my life I’ve reached out to try closed doors to see if they’re locked, and if not, see what’s behind them. I used to do this at airports, but I stopped. I also used to always answer a ringing pay phone, if I encountered one. How could I not?
I discovered at shopping malls, there are nondescript doors that lead to really neat, empty corridors that run the lengths of the mall – behind the stores, rather than in front, and those doors are rarely locked. Restaurants and hotels are full of doors that have no label and try to be invisible, but I see them, and I have to try them. I have had folks yell “Hey! You can’t go in there!”, but I always say, “Well, it was unlocked!”
Most often, the doors lead to little storage rooms, but sometimes, like in the mall, they lead to strange and wonderful places. Sometimes, they lead to the roof! I have found my way to the roof of many a building just by trying a random doorknob. I know I’m not supposed to be up on the roof, but who can resist a mysterious flight of stairs leading upwards, or even more tempting, a ladder!
Music has lots of slightly hidden doors, too, and going through them is a worthwhile pursuit. In the book “Lord of the Rings”, there were doors that had magical properties and could only be viewed at certain times of the year, or certain phases of the moon. And so it is with musical doors. You can travel through a song a thousand times, and then, unexpectedly, a door appears. It can take many forms.
You may discover a cool, new way to intro a song with a syncopated riff you’ve never considered before. You may discover that singing a song one half-tone higher yields stunning pitch and emotion you didn’t even know you had. Someone might suggest an interesting chord substitution that changes the whole mood of one of your favorite tunes.
You may discover these doors on your own, or they may be shown to you. But it’s up to you to be receptive – the doors often only appear once, and briefly. If you have a friend who’s always onto new cool musical tricks, chances are they are just better at spotting these doors. Don’t get left behind! Not every door leads somewhere worthwhile – you will encounter plenty of musical broom closets. But now and again, the door leads to a pretty cool passageway to something wonderful. It’s worth watching for, believe me. Try every doorknob, answer every strange ringing phone.