The key has been sitting here on the desk for a week now staring at me, wondering when I’m going to find some use for it. The truth is that I have no idea. No idea at all.
I found it a while back in a dresser drawer I was cleaning out. It was stuck in the back corner behind some pens, a stack of old pay stubs, and my high school ring. There’s no telling how long it had sat there, but it must have been a while. A very long while. Because try as I might, I couldn’t remember what it unlocked.
I’ve checked all the locks in the house, including the one on the shed in the backyard and the diary my daughter keeps. I’ve asked my wife if it happens to go to anything school-related and called my father to ask if it was his.
No all the way around.
It’s too big for a key to a shed or a mailbox. Not enough teeth to unlock a door. Not fancy enough to start a vehicle. Too real to fit a child’s toy.
I don’t know. I figure I have two options here, both obvious. I can throw the key away and be done with it, thinking that if I haven’t needed it for longer than my memory allows, I likely won’t need it again. Or I can keep it. I’m leaning toward keeping it. I can’t throw the key away. Doing that will all but guarantee I will find whatever lock it fits, and that on the other side of the lock will be something I will likely need very badly.
There are a lot of people who say it’s the big moments in our lives that show us who we really are, warts and all. I’m not one of them. I think it’s the little moments that do that. Moments like this one, with me and my key.
So I stare at it and wonder. Is this all about my tendency to hang onto things and not let them go? Or is it about my subtle distrust in the shaky maxim that “everything work out fine in the end”?
Maybe it’s neither. Maybe all this proves is that I tend to think about some things a little more than I should. Regardless, it’s all very discombobulating. I feel like I have an answer to a question I don’t know how to ask.
Maybe that’s the point.
Maybe I need to consider this as something I’ve found something that I don’t really need right now but might need later. I think that alone is reason enough to hang onto it. I know this from experience.
I’ve often found some truth, some answer, only to lose it and have to go searching again. Most of the mistakes I make are ones I’ve made before and never learned from or, worse, thought I learned from but really didn’t. And there have been a lot of times I’ve been left wondering “Why in the world did I have to go through that?” only to say later on “Oh, now I understand. It was so I could handle this.” We find the keys to a lot of life’s problems long before we come across the locks.
That’s why we have to hang onto them and keep them safe. Why the struggles we have now can grow into future blessings. Because often the key to life lies more in remembering than learning.