Doors Open, Doors Close: Life’s Little Lessons

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.

~ Alexander Graham Bell

Partly cloudy skies and a hint of frostiness in the air promised a wonderful morning for visiting Barcelona’s Picasso Museum, with a side trip to the Plaça Reial in the medieval quarter before leisurely strolling through Antoni Gaudí’s whimsical Parc Güell.

Man in a Beret (1895), Pablo Picasso


The Picasso Museum in Barcelona, Spain contains the roots of Pablo Picasso’s later, mature works. Paintings and drawings he produced as a young student bear the skill of a much more mature artist. This genius was only fourteen when he painted “Man in a Beret”!

Medieval arches in Picasso Museum, Barcelona (Photo credit: C. Bertelsen)

The museum encompasses five mansions dating to the medieval period, on a street named Montcada, house numbers 15-23, not easy to find. And it’s best to walk through the admissions door as early as possible in the morning, because one thing Barcelona does have is tourists. Lots of them.


Preliminary drawing for horse in Picasso’s “Guernica.” (Photo credit: C. Bertelsen)

After a quick visit to the Plaça Reial, figuring out how to get to the Parc Güell via metro, exiting at the Vallcarca stop, with a 20-minute walk ahead, I felt great excitement to be seeing this open-air masterpiece.

What I didn’t know was that getting there from the metro stop required climbing up a steep hill with the help of steps and escalators. Just before the very last leg of the climb, I stepped forward toward the escalator. What I didn’t see was apparently a step down, just one, but that’s all it took.

I lost my balance and pitched forward.

Struggling in vain to stay upright, I sensed myself almost running toward a stone wall ahead of me. Like a scene in a nightmare where you fall, when I fell, I landed on my left side, my brand-new Sony RX100M7 imprinting my ribs with a circular bruise, probably spraining the muscles there. My face smacked against the stones just inches from the wall, even more serious injury likely averted by the tough brim of the black baseball cap on my head and the wrap-around sunglasses on my face. Later, I noticed scratches on the left lens of the sunglasses, where they’d hit ground. My right wrist took a jolt, too, deep purple bruises, and both knees were black and blue, with minor scrapes, even though I’d been wearing tough black denim.

But the real loser in the fight against gravity turned out to be something else.

As I stared at my bloodied, bruised, misshapen wrist, I moaned, “Oh no! Not again!” Another fall, an accident, a result of not paying attention to the ground in yet another foreign country.

The first episode happened in Burkina Faso, in my own house, as I sprawled in rogue rainwater running like a creek across the linoleum floor of my study. I’d slipped as I frantically tried to stop the deluge gushing in under the air conditioner in the wall. This time, in Spain, I lay on the last of the stone landings of the immense stairway leading up to the Parc Güell.


Arches at Parc Güell (Photo credit: Andrea Adamina, Dreamstime, 2014)

And I imagined the slam of a heavy wooden door: my long-planned and anticipated trip to Spain ended right there, on that spot. Instead of meandering through the archways in Gaudí’s iconic park, I found myself instead in the emergency room of the hospital of Sant Pau, thanks to the help of a complete stranger, a young man who called an ambulance for me. Just in time, as I came close to fainting as we wandered around trying to find a hospital ER.

The diagnosis?

Left distal radius fracture.

Boom! Trip over.

At first, I told myself I couldn’t do this any more, sure that my clumsiness curtailed my traveling days.

Yet as the weeks of painful recovery slowly pass, I’ve been pondering Bell’s statement about doors, both opened and closed.

First, given the speed at which I fell, I count myself lucky not to have broken more bones.

Second, my eyes made it through without any ill effects, too.

So, where’s the opened door here?

I’m thinking about it … .

2 thoughts on “Doors Open, Doors Close: Life’s Little Lessons

  1. Oh Noooo Cynthia ! You poor poor thing, I am so verty very sorry for you. I don’t know you personally but I love what you write and how your write, and that says a lot about a person and I would love to meet you ‘in real life’ one day. You seem to be such a kind woman. It’s hard not to feel sorry for oneself when accidents like these happen to us and I would be totally in victim mode and angry too – the timing (during a holiday), the location (abroad!) …. aaagh!!! Some people I know mention self-sabotage when accidents occur but I’m not sure. So yes … I think it’s very wise of you to hone in on feeling grateful it didn’t turn out to be worse. Maybe that door hasn’t opened wide enough yet for you to comprehend what lies behind. Be kind to yourself and expect something wonderful, unknown to you yet?

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