Give My Life Meaning:
Pondering the meaning of life...

What if the key doesn't fit? (by Amanda Miu)

I stumbled across a great sentiment yesterday – it said “ Don't be discouraged. It's often the last key in the bunch that opens the door.” Initially, I chuckled to myself and nodded in agreement. “How many times I have literally experienced that situation” I thought, as I visualised locating the right key last and finally getting into my home. But then I pondered the notion metaphorically - how accurate was this statement really and how helpful is it in navigating through our lives?

On the one hand, we would all like to believe this statement is true. Because it means that even if we have not found what we are looking for – even if we are not there yet – then the answer may be just around the corner. If only we can persevere a bit longer then our salvation is nigh. This quote makes me feel better about the life choices I have made to date and satisfies me that I will eventually find what I am looking for in this life. It encourages me that I am on the right track and therefore that I should feel entitled to go on with my life in the same way I always have.

On the other hand, while I prefer the above interpretation of the quote, I am niggled by one inconvenient factor. I can't help but ponder – is reliance on the above interpretation a dangerous mistake? Is this statement simply fulfilling my human need to believe that everything will be ok even if, in all probability, the ultimate eventuality may prove dire? Does it allow me to take refuge and comfort in far fetched ideas and plans on the basis that even if such plans haven't yet worked out, they will eventually come to fruition.

We all know that humans need hope to survive but is it wrong to rely to heavily on well worn clichés that lead us down the garden path? Some time ago I read the book Freakonomics written by Steven D Levitt & Stephen J Dubner and I suspect that my concerns stem from something the authors alluded to in that book. That we humans like to hear convenient truths. That we do not necessarily want the truth – we want what is “convenient, comfortable and comforting”. This struck me as a strong argument - we humans do seem to love general maxims that we can overlay over our experience to date and that will confirm to us that our past behaviour and choices were right. Because we all like to hear things that optimise our self-esteem.

Ultimately, I still like take courage in the notion that it may be the last key that will in fact open the door but I also like to remind myself of the dangers of allowing myself to believe in such a message. This qualification allows me to have hope in the way I am living my life but it also reminds me to take precautions to provide for the scenario where the last key in the bunch simply doesn't fit. It encourages me to make changes to make my life better rather than to blindly follow the same course with no Plan B in sight. Because what if you are doing all the right things, and you have great hope that your hard work will pay off and that it will get you where you want to be - but what if it doesn't? All the surmising in the world will not help if you get to that last key and it is not what you need to get through the door. Are you prepared for such an eventuality?

Posted by Dom Ward