My keys to happiness unlock so much more

My keys to happiness unlock so much more

I have a chain that rattles in my pocket. With every step, it is a reminder that slaps against my leg inside the pocket of my jeans. I cannot forget why I am taking that step. The keys help serve that purpose.

There are three types of keys. One is made of gold. Another, wood. A final, iron.

The golden key unlocks a door to success: achievement, accomplishment, and admiration. Success in completing my completions, competing in my competitions, and calculating my calculations. It is made of pure gold, pure victory. Its reward is from obtaining—not possessing—it.

I have made it to and overcome my goals which are etched across the scintillating door I see, with perpetual, onerous work scattered in the field between. Each task is a leap towards the safety of having done something. With each leap, I could succumb and never get up, my feet devoured by the quicksand that feeds me with self-doubt. It traps me sometimes. That minefield horrifies me, but I don’t let it stop me.

The wooden key reveals a door to camaraderie.

It unlocks the weekends of bouncing on trampolines with more people than it permits, dancing to the songs whose lyrics are our anthem, and scoring goals by pitching goldfish into each other’s mouths. It unlocks the reminiscence of laughter: the giddy, mischievous kind of mischief, the excited, exultant, and exuberant escapes of ecstatic giggling, and, my favorite, the good, hard, rolling-on-the-ground, out-of-control bursts of laughing. It unlocks the efficacious inside jokes that never fail to prompt cherished thoughts and even the slightest curve of the lips.

This key unlocks the levees of my eyes in which what is flooding out is not tortured sorrow but the leftover fun my happy heart can’t hold. 

Crafting this key is a formidable feat. Precise carves must be made to fit the lock. One slight flaw can be unyielding to mend. I must be meticulously heedful not to chip off too much. It’s harder to glue a piece of wood on than it is to chisel off more. Sometimes, I go too far. Then, it’s just simpler to head back to square one with a fresh block of wood. 

I must confess: I play favorites among the wood. Some get old, but I still hang on to them, molding deeper designs within.

The final key is strong and unbending. I can’t mold its shape; it is what it is. I wouldn’t want to change it either. The surface of it does deteriorate. It rusts and collects dust. I polish it, but I can’t erase age. This key unlocks a door that stands apart from others. Its color, shape, and personality sing a different story. My story. I can’t change who I am at my core. I am who I am. I wouldn’t want to change. I do change still, but just on the surface.

This key is iron-strong; it is me. I have another of warm, welcoming wood and one of gleaming gold. They are bound together with a link that ties my happiness into one.

I have a chain that rattles in my pocket, with every step it is a reminder of the keys that unlock doors to winding paths with one destination: my happiness.