Use Your Key

Photo by londonstreetart2

Photo by londonstreetart2

The other day I received an email from a long lost cousin. She spent some time on my website watching old interviews and contemplating my assertion that through our inner monologue we story ourselves. The idea was disturbing to her. How could she be the teller of her story and yet feel so powerless? So many things have happened to her! How could she possibly be responsible for the twists and turns of her life? She asked, “How exactly is one to find empowerment when the door is locked and the key wasn’t left under the mat….”

I’ve been slow in responding to her questions because my impulse to respond was so immediate. I wrote and then deleted, “If you do not have the key, who does?”

Her metaphor is perfect. There is door to life and it is locked. Someone else has the key.

And, to make matters more cruel, there is a mat, a tease, a place where the key should be. The mat is a constant reminder of the absence of the key. Her metaphor gives structure to a very specific story, does it not? It defines the actions of her life, the role in which she has cast herself. In such a story frame there is no access to life, there is no possibility of personal power.

I wonder what she might see if she held a different metaphor? I wonder what she might see if she recognized that she is the keeper of the metaphor and in that way the giver of meaning to her life and not the seeker of meaning? I wonder what she might experience if she saw herself as a locksmith or an opener of doors? I wonder what she might experience if she recognized that life is available on both sides of the door? Life knows no doors. Life needs no key.

Her confusion is also perfect. She has mistaken her circumstance for her story. None of us has control over our circumstances. Cancers come. Hurricanes happen. Empowerment comes when we recognize that we have infinite control over who we are within our circumstance. Empowerment is not given, it is chosen.

The Buddhists recommend joyful participation in the sorrows of the world. No one sails through life without difficulty and hardship. The difficulty and hardship are the very things that bring growth and illumination. Participate joyfully. Or, participate painfully. The sorrows of the world will always be there; how we participate is the story we choose to tell. If there is a key to life, if a key is necessary in your story, in her story, it is simply this choice.

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