The REd Door and the golden key

Story by Aswathi Ashok 

Photo by John Mark Arnold on Unsplash

Will you believe if I said, I found the key to the magical realm of possibilities by accident? This happened on one of our routine weekend day trips to Pulau Bin.

My friends and I, all four of us boarded the ferry just in time to the Island of Pulau Bin- A remote island closest to Singapore’s main land. There isn’t much to do, but the place is great for camping and cycling. We loved to explore the lush green pristine forest that covered the rest of the island on our rented bicycles. 

“Finally, a well-deserved break from our work routine” grinned Hana.

“Yes” cheered the rest of us simultaneously. 

“Well, let’s start the ride then” I said with a smile on my face. With that, all of us cycled forward. Since the road was slightly narrow, we cycled in twos. Hana and Eva went ahead of us. Elli and me, we followed them behind. We loved cycling through the island at our own pace, exploring, taking breaks for pictures and selfies. 

I lost my balance when something suddenly hit my bicycle. It wasn’t a bad fall only a slight scratch on my right knee. Elli, immediately pulled over to look back. She parked her bicycle by the road and pulled me up. “Are you okay Maya” she asked lifting me up, careful not to hurt me. 

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Hana and Eva were quite ahead of us to have noticed my fall. “I am perfectly fine, no worries, keep going Elli, I’ll join you soon” I said getting up and dusting my dress while other cyclists went past us. Elli waited to make sure I was okay, before she resumed her ride. 

I looked at the handles and then at the road ahead. I could see Elli take the turn before she disappeared around the turn on the road ahead, just a few miles away. I got down from my seat, parked my bicycle to look for what caused the fall. I was sure I had hit some kind of a metal. I don’t know what made me do this but I did it anyway.

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I tossed the dried leaves on the road with my feet and saw something glitter in the daylight. I bent down to pick it up, it was a golden key with three holes at the handle. I turned it back and forth wondering. Assuming someone might have accidently dropped their key while cycling, I closed my grip on the key and decided to return it at the main rental store, so they could return it to those concerned.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash


As I stood up, a gush of wind blew my hair. Brushing my hair aside, I looked in front of me and saw a strange red door that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. “This is strange” I said out aloud. The road suddenly seemed empty. None of the other cyclists were seen nearby either. I walked to see the other side of the door and there was nothing, just the door standing firmly erect like it was the door of some invisible building built in front of me. 

Google images courtesy.

Was this magic. If it was, this was scary. What’s scarier is that we are all so used to living our lives in this world without magic, if we saw things happening that our logical minds can’t explain, I am sure most of us would go insane. I really did go insane I guess, because to date I cannot tell, if all that I saw next actually happened in reality or was that all me – daydreaming.

I saw a keyhole on the door, the key in my hand sparkled golden-yellow. How did the door appear?? Can others see it too? Why is the way so deserted all of a sudden? Too many questions swirled in my mind. I took few steps ahead and tried the key on the door. The key fit perfectly well and the door clicked open. There wasn’t anything inside, it just looked like the door slid open and nothing happened. I could still see the road ahead of me.  I walked through the door and all of a sudden, the landscape changed. I was now on an empty beach, there was no one around except an old boat tied to a rock. I walked towards the boat and there was a note kept on the seat that said, “Ride me to get back to your realm or stay in hear as long as you wish”. I turned back to leave, as this had started to scare me now. The door had vanished, I was all alone on a lonely beach with no idea how to get back. It was just me and the boat on the beach. I was in a fix, having no other option I jumped into the boat after untying it and rowed into the sea. Not knowing where I was, nor why I was doing all that I was doing.

Photo by Photoklickr from Pexels

I kept rowing, wondering how to get out of this place. As I rowed ahead, I saw a yellow door that appeared from nowhere onto my left, standing adrift on the waters of the sea. I stared at it fearful of where it might lead me to and chose not to open the door. I kept rowing ahead instead. “What if that door was my way back home?” a thought crept into me. Doubtful, I turned to look back only to see the door vanish. Few more coloured doors appeared here and there in the sea, some didn’t open despite me trying to open them, while most that opened, I chose not to get through them, as they made me anxious about where they might lead me to, by the time I decided to go through them, for some odd reason the doors either vanished or remained closed and just wouldn’t open.

I kept rowing and numerous doors kept appearing. My anxiety and fear started to worry me. I couldn’t understand what was happening. How was I supposed to choose the right door and find my way back? Will it take me back to the island or will it take me to some other dangerous place? I stopped rowing overwhelmed with worries, tears rolled down my cheeks, I clenched my dress on my knees with a tight grip. I knew, I was lost. “I’ll probably die in here alone, and no one would ever know” it was my fear talking.

“No, I’ll definitely find a way out” I finally said out aloud with all the courage I had left, trying my best to sound brave. Atleast it sounded braver than I felt. Just then I heard a VOICE.

I jumped to a corner of the boat when I saw the source- “I didn’t realize you could talk” I said to the boat.

“That’s okay, I couldn’t talk, not until now. That’s how things work here. I can only talk when the one riding me overcomes their anxiety, like you just did” replied the boat.

“Please do not fear me, I am the voice inside you, the subtle supportive voice that stays mute when all your voices of anxiety and fear speak louder” said the boat.

“I don’t understand what in the world is happening? How are you a boat?”

“Don’t worry Maya… Yes I know your name” the boat replied before I opened my mouth to ask. “Remember, all this is just an illusion, but that doesn’t mean what you learn in here is false. The golden key that you found was hope. And I am the voice of your conscience. Now, whatever I am about to tell you is something that you already know, as I said I am the voice in you, but you let your voice of anxiety and fear speak to you louder” said the voice.

“What is this place? What are these doors, why am I here? How do I get back?” before I knew I had blurted out all the questions I had.

“Slow down, I understand you are scared and confused” said the voice. I am sure you’ll understand once you wake up, from this illusion”

“This is the world of Possibilities, you opened it when you touched the golden key. This world acts as a blueprint to how humans choose to live their life in your world”

I wanted to interrupt but decided not to and let the boat continue talking.

“This journey, you rowing through the water is how life is. All the different doors you saw in here are all the amazing opportunities you got to go home to your realm. When you lose some opportunities, many others open up. You let your fear and anxiety, stop you from opening few doors, didn’t you?”

There was silence, the boat had stopped talking. I realized what the boat was trying to tell me, I knew how to get back home.

I opened the door in front of me and walked through it and within seconds the landscape changed and I was back on the seat of my bicycle. I looked around and saw the golden key lying at my feet. “This was all real then” I thought as I bent down to pick it up but just then.. It vanished.

The newly gained confidence and hope brought a smile on my face, I had learnt what I had to in my life and cycled my way to my friends. To this day, I haven’t told this story to anyone, except share the lesson I learnt to all.

“Don’t let lose the rare golden opportunities that come your way, every door that comes your way opens up a new possibility. Don’t let your fear and anxiety, stop you from opening the door of possibilities. You never know, that door that you fear to open right now, might just be your next golden opportunity”.

Real life lessons

Today, I was part of a leadership conference. Many of us get excited when we have this opportunities to hear and learn something new. Or same things we know, but with a new twist to it. I got energized by this small glimpse of history. Those who know me, I am not at all a fan of history. I do not really pay attention to what happened long time ago. This particular incident actually paves a good lesson to aspiring managers. So I decide to share on a quick blog here.

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Many of you may know about Terra Nova Expedition. I have to admit here, I am not so sure whether I have learned about this in school days or not. The host today talked about this. Interesting story. Two expedition to south pole. Both did not know they were doing this (I am not sure about this). But they wanted to be first one to reach the south pole. Robert Falcon Scott from Britain and Roald Amundsen from Norway were the two teams leaders. Robert Falcon had only one ambition. Conquer it. He pushed his team members as much as he can. They worked so hard daily. Every single day, he pushed his team to better their efforts.

Roald Amundsen on the other hand asked his team to do 20 miles a day. Regardless of what it is. He did not push the staff, but encouraged them daily to do what they do their BEST. He also did not had any schedule. As long as the 20 miles are done in a day he was happy. You can now see two different strategies as leaders. This is definitely thought provoking for me. I myself is a leader. Which path I should be taking? Many leadership conferences we will get something like this thought provoking isn’t it.

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At the end Norwegian team gets to south pole 34 days before the British team lead by Scott. None of the Scott team including him did not make it back. They all perished in this journey. The lesson is simple. As a leader, lead the team, not push them. See the goal and circumstances. Team will support and deliver if they are treated well. If you respect them you will get the results. As a leader Roald knew the health of his team is more important. They are in the rough seas. They need to take it steady but with same pace. What does this remind you guys?

Story of rabbit and turtle isn’t it? Slow and steady wins the race. All the leaders out there, you don’t need to micro manage your employees. They will deliver if you give them the trust. You hired them once by seeing their ability. They will deliver, Keep them on track and motivate them. I am delighted to hear this story. Don’t you?

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Disclaimer- I did not read any facts about the above said story. I heard it from the host and felt it was great to share. If you are a historian and have lots of insight, I do not offend anyone here. Just a small story to reflect a little on leadership styles. That is all this blog intend to do so. Thank you.