Living Madly: The God of Doors
By Emilie-Noelle Provost
One of my father-in-law’s favorite sayings was: There’s always the unexpected. No matter how carefully our plans are laid out, or how much we might want a particular thing to happen, or not, the possibility that something unforeseen will derail our desires is ever-present. Most people, including me, find this fact unsettling. Knowing what’s likely to happen in a given situation is comforting, while change, even when expected, can provoke fear and uncertainty.
But change can also bring fortune to those who choose to embrace it. Losing a predictable but dead-end job creates an opportunity to land a better role at a different company, or perhaps to change careers. Ending an unhappy relationship with a spouse or partner makes it possible to start over again with someone new.
Anyone familiar with tarot cards knows that the Death card, which often depicts the Grim Reaper riding a horse over the body of a king, rarely implies physical death. When this card shows up in a reading, it usually signifies a significant and often abrupt ending of some kind. This change will likely be difficult, but will hopefully foster the self-awareness needed to pull oneself together and start again, armed with wisdom gained from experience. The king on the card implies that no one is exempt from Death’s whims: It’s far better to roll with the punches and learn how to regroup than to wallow in self-pity.
The ancient Roman god, Janus, has two faces. One looks forward into the future, the other, backward toward the past. He is the god of beginnings and endings, the god of change. Janus rules thresholds, gates, and doorways. He is present when someone is born, when someone dies, and during transitional events, such as weddings and graduations. The month of January is named for him.
To the Romans, Janus was the most powerful god of all. He was fate’s doorkeeper, and they did everything in their power to gain his favor. On New Year’s Day, the Romans were careful not to say anything derogatory about another person. They offered sweets and gifts of coins to strangers, abstained from foul language, and performed good deeds in hope of creating conditions that would encourage luck and prosperity in the coming year.
Change has been rampant and unforgiving for a lot of people over the last few years. The COVID-19 pandemic proved to be the most significant interrupter in modern times, upending jobs and marriages, travel plans, and the trajectory of nearly everyone’s lives.
In September 2020, my mother died after losing a battle with cancer. In 2021, our adult daughter moved out of our house into a home of her own. Over a four-month period in 2022, my husband and I lost three of our college friends to cancer as well. My father-in-law died of heart failure this past October.
These changes have been difficult, but most of them have led to new beginnings that give us hope for a happier future. After losing so many people to cancer, Rob and I have made exercising and eating well a priority, and we are both healthier than we have ever been. Our relationship with our daughter has evolved and grown stronger, and after years of mourning my mother, my stepfather is now in a new relationship with a woman who seems like a perfect fit for him.
We’re entering Janus’ season. In just a few short weeks, 2023 will be over and a new year will begin. In 2024, I’m hoping to submit a new book manuscript to my publisher. And after years of working for the same company, my husband has decided to look for a new job. There’s no way of knowing what might happen, but here’s to hoping that the God of Doors looks upon all of us with kindness.
Emilie-Noelle Provost (she/her) is the author of The River Is Everywhere, a National Indie Excellence Award and American Fiction Award finalist, and The Blue Bottle, a middle-grade adventure with sea monsters. Visit her at emilienoelleprovost.com.