To Lock and Unlock


Most of my friends at home has a key to my house. If they don’t, they know where a key is kept or they know of someone who has one. I do not know why I so liberally give the key to my house. Perhaps I am anxious about locking myself out or maybe it is my way to make sure someone else could get in if I needed that.

Here in Paris the locks are quite a fascination. There is the key pad to get into the building’s foyer, a keypad to get into the main part of the building, a key for the garbage room and of course there is a key to the apartment. I don’t get mail here, but if I did, there’s a key for that as well. The apartment key has a double function…actually a quintuple function. The door locks behind me whether I use the key or not, but the key ensures that I can lock the other four locks which secure the hinges to the door jam. If that is not enough, there is a bolt which runs the length of the door down into the floor boards. Curiously, as well as the locks work, they do not work with ease. It takes a strong slam to line up the bolts correctly and a little extra upper body strength to release them.

When they turn all together, it is not unlike a bank vault. And, a vault is what we might think of as we turn the key—we are vaulting away our possessions and ensuring our safety. I can appreciate the measures taken, but it has made me ponder our practice for locking down and, in turn, locking out.

Perhaps this is to assure me the astuteness of the labyrinth locking system. But it reminds me that we all create our own systems of locking. Sometimes we lock out others who want to help, insisting that we can do whatever needs to be done on our own. Sometimes we lock away sadness that scares us and keep hidden our real feelings. Sometimes we lock down, retreating into ourselves in such a way that our hibernation becomes a means of disconnect.

As in most things in life, there is a balance to be realized between the times to lock and unlock. Neither should be all the time. Sometimes when I take time to turn inward it may seem like I am keeping others out, but really I am offering some time to reflect or do what it takes for me to reenergize. Sometimes when I open the doors of my being wide, it may seem as though all I ever want is to be surrounded by people but this is really a reflection of the connections I need and desire. If they were in perfect balance, I might feel completely steady. However, this is not always the case, but it is always a practice of awareness.

The awareness the lock offers is the opportunity to understand that all locks which provide a sense of protection and security when shuttered, also turn the other way—they undo, they reopen, they dislodge because sometimes the safest place to live is in a place we unlock.

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