Life Without Keys§

writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: June 23, 2015; revised: April 2, 2018; readers in past month: 820

St. Charles College
Grand Coteau, Louisiana
The Dormitory Interior
of St. Charles College

Yesterday, I sent the keys to the apartment to the landlady. This morning I left the keys to my friend’s place where I’ve been staying. I’m flying now to Sweden. When I went through airport security, as I reached into my pocket to remove my keys and coins, I realized that I have no keys. Nor do I expect to get replacement keys any time soon. Whatever keys I might get from friends over the next few months will be only temporarily–for a few days or a week at most.

It’s kind of freeing, having no keys. Not only don’t I have the irritation of keys poking my leg or behind, depending in which pocket I keep them, and the weight of carrying them, but it’s a lightening emotionally.

I remember when I would go on a retreat many years ago in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. There was a Jesuit seminary and retreat center there. I would go for a week for a self-directed retreat. This is one in which you don’t talk all week. You just pray or meditate, think, and relax the whole time.

When I would arrive, I would put my wallet and keys in the desk drawer in the room where I would stay. I didn’t need them. Not talking was moderately easy. But it would take a few days to get my mind to stop talking. I had so much chatter inside me. I couldn’t think or listen. In time, though, I would calm down. It was very therapeutic.

At the end of the week, when I would go to leave, I would open the desk drawer to get my wallet and keys. The wallet was alright, but I resented the keys. It was like a small shackle that would become part of me again. Sometimes I would struggle against taking them, but I needed them to drive my car, to enter my home. Maybe I didn’t want to go back. Mostly, I tihnk I didn’t like what the keys represented: responsibility, pressure, frustration, obligations, and being control by others.

So now I’ve let go of keys again. It’s nice. Contrary to what I expected, I like not having a home in the physical sense–at least for a while.