For those readers who have been with the Writ since December, you may recall a short story I wrote and published called Finding the Key about a kid who loved to jump on a trampoline. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you take a moment and view it before you read this post. In a class I took this last semester I had the opportunity to write an explanation of the meaning behind the story. I hope that my story and my explanation inspire your critical thought.
Finding the Key is a vastly simplistic representation of the fight to overcome personal barriers and how the mind influences our perception of the world around us. I thought that the story would be particularly relevant to the theme of imagination as pertaining to human inquiry.
My reason behind writing this story was to share things that I have found in my personal journey with the reader. I also wanted to put into words something as profound as internal struggle. I wrote this in the style of a children’s story because not only does it add to my theme of growth, but children’s lives are much simpler than ours, and I wanted to cast the complicated issues surrounding this story in the most simplistic light as possible.
The story starts with a child sitting at a door. I chose to start with this scene because it particularly exemplified the conflict in the story. I wanted the reader to ask why at this part. I chose jumping for the child’s activity that he loved so much because it seemed simplistic and fit well with the “reaching for the sky” metaphor of attaining your goals. The door blocking the child from experiencing the trampoline represents the mentally induced barrier his mind set for him. Something I don’t tell the readers is that the door always could be opened, but the child didn’t take the proper steps and have the mental clarity in order to open it.
There is also a slight tone of fate in the story that I would like to address. The evidence for the child’s journey being fated centers around the mysterious dream he had. It seems as if the man in the dream knew the child’s destiny, but it hadn’t fabricated yet because the child had yet to believe in it. However, the conflict felt throughout the story arises internally. There seems to be only conflict because the child makes it so. With this, a question arises. If the story is fated, what does this say about fate versus free will? It comes down to something I have written about many times in the past: there are levels. We are on one level of existence, the worldly level. Fate, if it exists, lies in another level, just as real but unseen and undetectable by we who live on this level. It still controls our lives, but relative to us we still have control over what we do and where we go. The message of fate in the story has to do with acceptance and belief. To us, our fate is what we believe it is. When the little child was conflicted, his fate was to be in the house and blocked off from the other kids on the trampoline forever because he failed to believe otherwise. With the epiphany of his dream, the child then had belief in his own progress in addition to not being stuck in the house forever and “finding the key”.
Another important element of the story is the steps through which the child attained his growth and his success. As I stated before, the important element in the story is the journey, and this case is no different. First, the child was filled with self-pity and felt like giving up. He then has a dream that gives him hope, but at first he does not know what to do from there. He then reflects upon himself and finds that “to find the key, one must seek it.” He then sets out and struggles with the door to the basement until he flings it off the hinges and is struck by the darkness he must travel through. Then by some “unseen” force he is thrust into the darkness and then he finds the key and then self reflects and learns that he has grown. This gives him peace and serenity as he finally jumps again.
From the child’s journey, we can discern a distinct pattern that leads to personal growth: Hope, self-meditation and reflection, trial, belief and finally another reflection and assessment of person. It is my belief that all success starts with hope, hence its position as the first step to enlightenment.
Also, it is important to take note of the outside forces that are present in the story. We have already covered fate, but what about the child’s dream or the “push” he felt while going into the basement? Taken literally they seem like direct intervention from a divine source who may or may not control fate. Taken metaphorically, the interventions could be the child’s own doing, such as his predicament in the first place, and they are nothing more than manifestations of his own hope. But which one is it? Not even I know the answer to that question. But I will suggest the possibility that maybe the divine intervention is in accordance to the existence of hope in the first place. Divinity is a manifestation of hope in us, or possibly the other way around or both.
I very well could write a book on the meaning of this short story. I will submit to you that I did not plan the meaning, nor the plot. I merely started writing and the meaning developed by itself. It’s almost as if the story had meaning already before I placed meaning upon it. Maybe that is how everything is, but who could know? We can only seek, just as the child in the story, and I hope with all my might that we will get to a place within ourselves where we are serene, peaceful, and can reach for the sky.