There are locks and keys to everything. You probably didn’t realize it, or maybe you did. They’re invisible, but you have to go through them in order to enjoy the things that they lock up.
Maybe you knew they were there, and maybe you even tried a couple of keys out. Trying to open them. You took out that giant key ring of yours, the one with the Disney World key chain, and the Lego key chain, and went down the line, trying each key. None of them unlocked anything, did they?
It got to the point where you were pretty desperate, like when you first met her. Her smile. It was a hot summer day in downtown Savannah, but damn, it was beautiful – and you were trying so hard to unlock those things: Her smile, the sun, and the cobblestone streets. I saw you, struggling to try out every key as fast as you could, trying not to draw attention to the large volume of keys spilling from that keychain of yours, the one with the Disney World keychain and the Lego piece.
But none of those keys worked, did they? None of them unlocked her smile, or the sunshine, or the Savannah cobblestones. So they all become memories, but you don’t get to enjoy them, because you didn’t unlock them. They just pass. You might be able to enjoy the memory of them, but you will never actually enjoy them.
That’s not a rare occurrence, though. Anytime you’re out with your friends, you scramble to try and find the right key. Like the time last week when you were at Hang Fire with Jaimi and Kyle, or the weekend when you took a run down to Daffin Park. If anyone saw you, they would’ve seen you scrambling to figure out which key was the right key – which key was going to unlock that moment, so that you could enjoy it, and enjoy it right then, not after the fact, like a box of leftover food from Hang Fire: microwaved memories that aren’t as fresh, and instead of giving you the real taste, they only remind you of what it tasted like when it was first delivered to your table.
And so part of you starts to wonder how other people unlock their things: The times that they kiss the person they love, the times that they get to see their favorite artist play a show, even if it’s in a crummy bar in the sketchy part of downtown Savannah. Or the first time a father holds his newborn in his arms, wondering if the weight of his insecurity will be heavier than the wiggling child. You never see these people jostling a handful of keys, do you?
Throw your keys out. Throw them away. Run down to Morrell Park and throw that bundle of keys into the river, Disney World key chain and all. Stop worrying about trying to unlock every single moment, because if you take a closer look, you’ll realize that none of them were locked in the first place. They’re all unlocked. You were the one that locked them.
When people try to enjoy things, they feel the ineffable need to tie them up, or put them in a jar, or pin them to a white poster board and display them on their shelf, like a bug collection, or an autographed copy of a first edition book. We do the same thing with pets, but it’s opposite. No one has ever loved their dog so much that they took it’s leash off and opened the door. If we love something, we put a collar on it, give it a nametag and put it in a cage, so we’ll know where it is the next time we want it.
So don’t worry about those locks, don’t worry about unlocking the moments – they were unlocked to begin with. Stop worrying about finding the right key, or any of the keys, for that matter. Your family used to take you and your sister to Hilton Head, driving up north out of Savannah. If you remember closely, you’ll think of the showers at those beach houses, and how good it felt to wash that salt and sun off of your sun-bleached skin after a long day under the open sky. The cold rush of the water only feels good because it’s rushing past you – If you try to keep it from doing that, you won’t be able to feel it any more.
Someday, maybe, your keys will wash back on shore, but for now, let them go. The more that you grapple with the lock, the more it tightens. Let go of the keys, let go of the lock.
Your moments are free.