The Key to Freedom
Have you ever lost your keys? It always seems to happen when you are in the biggest rush, right? There’s frantic running around… perhaps a bit of cursing…. flinging things out of drawers and bags… maybe some yelling… heart racing… jaw tightening….
What makes us so crazy when we lose our keys?
Perhaps someone else is depending upon us to be somewhere or unlock something. Perhaps we are panicking because we don’t want to cause worry or because we will be stranded with no clear alternative plan. In every case, we are locked out of something, and gaining access to it feels important. If it weren’t important, we wouldn’t be panicking.
But this experience of feeling locked out doesn’t just apply to our home, car, office, storage unit, or even an app on our phone; it applies to things that are emotionally and relationally important as well.
What does it feel like trying to be who everyone else wants you to be?
What does it feel like to feel distant from and different from people you care about?
What does it feel like to always have to have the answer to every situation and every problem?
I know because I spent years feeling like I was missing a bunch of important keys. There was one door that was marked ‘Authentic self.’ It seemed like there would be fabulous things behind this door like confidence, self-love, hobbies, joy, and play… but I didn’t have a key to get in. I was stuck outside, always feeling a bit hollow inside.
Then there was the door that was marked ‘Deeply Loving and Connected Relationships.’ I didn’t have the key to this one either. I had relationships, but it always seemed that there was a deeper quality that was missing from them. People came into my life easily and left easily, often not reaching a depth I imagined was possible. I had no idea where to look for this key.
And then there was the door marked ‘Lighthearted play.’ I watched people go in and out of this door in awe, but every time I tried to enter, I couldn’t get in… I couldn’t even sneak in behind others. People were joyful going in and out; it seemed like fun, but I guess each person needed their own key. So onward I persisted, striving for perfection and collecting tokens of achievement, quite unable to just play at things.
All three doors were locked and I didn’t have any of the keys. I felt sad and angry and I started to blame others. ‘They are keeping me from these special places.’ ‘It is because of what they are doing and what I need to do for them that I can’t get in.’ So I just kept busy on the outside. Occasionally I would wander by these doors, but eventually, I lost interest and just kept myself busy with other things.
And then, much like the punchline in the Wizard of Oz, I was guided to understand that each of us has our own unique key to these doors. I didn’t have to find them in a secret hiding place or wait for someone else to give me access, I had my own set of keys. For Dorothy, she needed to click her heels together and repeat, “There’s no place like home.” For me, the locks to these doors began opening one by one when I learned to be curious…
- Curious about who I was rather than who people wanted me to be,
- Curious about why others would want to connect with me and how I could connect more meaningfully with them, and
- Curious about the power of play and the beauty of imperfection.
Sometimes we are locked out of places and sometimes we are locked in places… locked in the room of shame, guilt, fear, grief, disgust, sadness, anger, or jealousy. However, no matter where we are stuck, Curiosity is a magic key that has the power to open any door.
To hear how I and my podcast guests have all used Curiosity to unlock doors in our lives, listen in to our podcast episode: Why Curiosity is Your Key to Freedom.