Do you have something you’ve started but never finished? I have several.
A movie about closing doors
A good friend of mine is interested in Japan, and she told me about the movie Suzume. She invited me to her house to watch it with her family.
I was expecting much, but it was a good movie with heartfelt messages and life lessons.
The director is Makoto Shinkai. He has made a few successful animated movies in the last decade. I had not watched any of his movies, but after watching Suzume, I wanted to know more about the movie and the director. I love behind-the-scene type content a lot.
I watched a YouTube video of the movie pre-launch event that was done after all the animations were done but no voice or sound had been recorded yet.
In a modest, very ceremonial setup – in a Japanese way – rather a boring event took place featuring him and two voice actors who played the main characters in his previous 2 movies.
At the time of the event, director Shinkai didn’t even have the voice actor picked for the movie yet, so he was asking for advice from his two guests.
But he was very clear on one thing: His vision – Why he made this movie, and what he hoped the movie would do, and also the message it would carry.
Importance of closing doors that we have opened
One of the 3 key elements of the movie was that Director Shinkai didn’t want to make a movie about opening doors. He wanted to make a movie about closing doors.
Interesting, isn’t it?
In metaphors, opening doors vs closed doors have positive vs negative connotations respectively.
So why did he want to focus on closing doors?
I don’t know what the English translation says, but what I heard him say in Japanese is:
he thought we humans is really good at opening doors. It’s easy for us to start something. We are always starting something. But then, we are bad at closing doors. It’s more difficult to finish than to start. For example, we are good at taking land and building a house. But once that house is no longer needed or the land becomes no longer habitable, we just leave. We don’t un-construct the building we put there.
We even have a popular term like “groundbreaking”, originating in construction but used the same as “pioneering,” but we don’t have a term to unbreak the ground….because we don’t unbreak the ground.
Director Shinkai wanted to share his idea that, as we move through our life moving from room to room, building to building, it’s important to intentionally, almost ceremonially, close each door. It would keep your life, our world, even the environment, uncluttered.
Different types of unclosed doors
What kind of doors do we have in our lives? I can think of two major types of doors left open.
Unclosed door type 1: Unfinished Business
I think most of us have some unfinished businesses that are looming over our heads. Why don’t we just take care of it?
Is it because it takes some effort and/or time?
Is it emotionally too difficult?
Is it no longer needed?
Unclosed door type 2: Auto renewal
Another way that we don’t “finish” is that we keep renewing something we don’t need or use.
- An online course you started subscribing but “one day, I will get back into it”, and it’s been years.
- A license/certification you have earned at one point that you have no interest in using but you are keeping it just in case.
- (though, in some cases, this makes sense to keep)
- An unused, or even unknown subscription you are paying that originated from a free trial.
Inventory of doors left open
If you are suddenly concerned about the doors left open by you, don’t worry. Great news is, we can choose to do something about it. Let’s get a pen and a paper and write down doors we opened but we haven’t yet closed for one reason or another.
Let’s spend 3 minutes and see what we get.
Deciding which doors to close in 2024
Next, let’s focus on only a few doors at most. Like the movie Suzume, you can only close one door at a time. It’s going to take some effort, so we don’t want to overwhelm ourselves. That’s how some of these doors got left open to start with.
From your list, let’s pick the top three doors you wish to close. And then put a number next to it, in the order of priority.
Now, let’s start taking action on the door number 1.
New Year’s Eve is a chance to close the door of the year so that we have a place to welcome the new year.
In Japan, we do “spring cleaning” before the year ends so that we can welcome the new year fresh.
This is especially effective if you are attempting new things in the new year. It feels like you are ending the year on a good note, no matter how the previous year had turned out to be.
If you can’t do the whole house, just do the key place – if you have a business, the physical shop, or just your desk area.
If you don’t have any of that, take a shower or a bath – enter into the new year with a fresh body & soul.
I am looking forward to creating a new habit of closing some unclosed doors of my own in the future.