Freedom from the Keys

At one time in my life, I had three jobs. Not because I had a death wish or was trying to avoid seeing my family, but because it took three jobs to get us out of the hole we had dug for ourselves. It wasn’t a fun period in my life, but it was a necessary one. I believe strongly in doing everything you can to take care of your family and not relying on outside forces, such as the government, to meet your responsibilities. If a man does not work, then he shouldn’t eat. He also shouldn’t have free cable or a cell phone, but that’s another post.

One of my trio of headaches was working at a church, the second was as a supervisor to a newspaper drop, and the third was my own paper route to stores and machines. Each job came with its own ring of keys, each key representing some form of responsibility, which came with its own amount of pressure and stress. Add to that all of the keys that went with my personal life and it was a wonder my hair didn’t go gray a whole lot sooner. It was quite a bit to take care of all at one time. I was surprised that with that many keys my pants remained up. Life had become way too complicated. It was time to simplify.

Each key represents a responsibility, something to take care of and maintain. It doesn’t even have to do with a job. Possessions come with quite a bit of pressure, as well. Things can break down. They have to be kept track of and protected. You worry about someone stealing them or some unseen accident happening. You buy locks and insurance and alarms just to keep it all safe. Keys require money and time, sometimes taking them away from what you’d rather be spending both on, instead. At times, it’s enjoyable. Quite often, however, it’s rather frustrating and I have enough frustrating things in my life. I was being held captive by a ring of a million keys, a prisoner; I was shackled by material possessions and the rungs on a professional ladder. It was time for a revolution and to regain my freedom. It was time to take my life back.

I made the decision to start getting rid of my keys. One by one, I took whatever steps I needed to pull them from the ring and toss them away. I quit two jobs and gladly handed my keys over. I reduced my possessions and freed up my weekends and nights. I had more money, more time, and less stress. I didn’t have to worry about maintaining things, which was good because I really suck at keeping things running. I wanted to be able to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it and that was finally beginning to happen because I was willing to get rid of some keys. Freedom was mine and it felt great.

It’s been several years since I made the decision to simplify my life, and I’m down to two keys - one for my car and one for my home. That’s all I need. The best things in life are not careers or possessions. The best things in life are the family and friends I surround myself with and the ability to chase a dream I have had since ninth grade. Boats, I have no doubt, are fun. A fancy career may have prestige. Neither, however, is better than what I have in my life right now. People are more valuable than keys and much more rewarding.

The keys to a happy life, an enriching, fulfilling life don’t jangle in your pocket. They wrap their arms around you and whisper, “I love you,” in your ear. Those are the keys worth carrying around.

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