Okay, so I’ve got the keys, I just have to figure out how to use them.
Last week I described a dream I had where I was trapped in a runaway car with my late parents that ended with me pulling the key out of the ignition and avoiding disaster.
I interpreted this dream as a message from my subconscious mind that I can take control of my life.
Well, apparently, I didn’t get my own message because while keys figured prominently in my life this week as well, it was no dream and I was definitely not in control.
It had been a rather stressful few days, and when I say “stressful” I mean I completely overreacted to any problem that cropped up and made them much worse than they really were.
Things got so bad that one night I came home from the store and found I had locked myself out of my apartment.
Please note that I didn’t forget my keys. I had them right in my hand and I went through every single key on the ring. But none of them worked.
This was impossible, unless, of course, malevolent elves had snuck into my apartment during the night and swapped my regular keys for an ersatz set. This seemed highly unlikely as I don’t tend to interact with elves, malevolent or otherwise, during my normal course of business.
I’ve lived in this apartment for five years now and if I had a dollar for every time I’ve locked and unlocked this door I could use the Hearst Mansion for a toolshed.
And yet I couldn’t get in. I tried each key again, slower this time, while my breath grew short and my head started to expand. Still nothing.
I could feel the panic rising up through me. I had to get in there. I had work to do, I had to catch up my DVR recordings, do some reading, and, oh, yeah, have my dinner and go to bed.
I had Chinese food the other night and one of my fortunes read “constant grinding can turn a steel bar into a needle.” At the rate I was going I could’ve turned the Golden Gate Bridge into a toothpick.
Still, I had enough sanity left to know that I couldn’t force the key to work. Years ago, I was having trouble getting into the garage at my family’s house.
I had to get my car, I was running late for work and I got so angry and impatient that I twisted the key as hard as I could—and promptly snapped the key in the lock.
I eventually had to call a locksmith who charged me almost 90 bucks for a five-minute job. And I was really late for work.
Standing on the landing of my apartment, I was determined not to repeat that fiasco.
I finally walked down one flight to my landlady’s apartment and asked to borrow her spare key.
Naturally it worked on the first try and now, with the pressure off, I found the right key on my ring and it worked perfectly.
So, what happened here? I flipped out so seriously that I rendered myself incapable of performing a routine action.
It’s particularly disheartening since I really believe I’ve been making some progress in managing stress.
My darker nature also worries that this could a warning sign of more serious problems as I feel like I’ve been more forgetful lately. A talk with a specialist wouldn’t hurt.
In analyzing this fiasco, I can see how I often conflate all of my problems into one hideous monster.
I had a number of setbacks during the day, but instead of reacting to them individually I created my own private Godzilla.
So, I’ll be more attentive to the warning signs. I’ll apply the various stress-relief techniques that I keep in my emotional toolbox. And I’ll label my goddam keys so I don’t have to run through each one of them until I find the winner.
Okay, we’ve got that settled. Now give me another cookie.