Limitations into perspective

I have a silver paperweight that says, Every wall is a door. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that.

I got it after visiting the Mapparium, a stained-glass cove you stand inside in order to see the what we traditionally see when we look at a globe from the outside. Talk about perspective, and perception.

I wanted to see the Mapparium because Jhumpa Lahiri writes about it in one of her stories from The Interpreter of Maladies (the story is “Sexy”). The perspective was so weird to me–to be standing inside something I should be seeing from the outside–it was like realizing that everything I’d believed might, in fact, be seen in an infinite number of ways–none of which I’d thought of because my perspective was too limited.

I went to the Mary Baker Eddy gift shop to see if they sold little globes, some kind of totem I could use to remind me how small my thinking could be. That’s when I found the paperweight, and bought it. When we got home I put it next to my computer monitor so I could see it when I was writing. (These days I move it around the house.) I wondered, then, if Jhumpa Lahiri had one, though, from her writing, her stories, her gift with words, it seemed to me as though she already understood what I still learning.

The paperweight is rectangular, smooth and flat, quite heavy for its size, and I like to pick it up and hold it in my hand. I run my thumb over the picture of a door and take in the inscription: “Every wall is a door, it says, and I remember the Mapparium. Inside is outside. And then everything opens up, and I find a new way in to whatever I am creating.