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Monday, February 1, 2016

The Desk and the Key

Years ago, I was wandering through an antique store in an old house on Central Avenue in Charlotte, NC.    I had been searching for an antique desk for my bedroom for a long time and had never quite found the one that was in my mind.  I walked from room to room, browsing and as I entered a new room, I saw the very desk that I had been searching for for so long.

It was delivered to my home that same night.  But there was a slight problem.  My bedroom is upstairs.  The desk is solid oak and heavy.  The two people who delivered it stood staring at the desk and at the stairs.  I never thought the stairs would be an issue. But the deliverers told me they were usually informed about stairs.  So I offered to help them. 

And so, the three of us pushed and shoved and lifted the desk to the top of the stairs.  As we approached the top, I heard one of the delivery men groan.  I thought he had hurt his back, but as we sat the desk down he motioned to me.  "We will never be able to get this desk into your bedroom.  The turn from this hallway into your bedroom is too sharp.  The desk is too large."

Looking at the desk, I had to agree.  I had always imagined the desk in my bedroom and now I was faced with the prospect of having to put it in another place.  But there was not another place in my home that I wanted that particular desk.  It had to go into my bedroom.  So I looked closer at the desk and found that the top could be removed.  By removing the top, we were able to slide the frame (without the drawers) into my bedroom.

As we stood the frame of the desk in place, I noticed something attached to the underside.  It was a magnet.  And on the magnet was a key.  I assumed that the key was used to lock and unlock the drawers.

We reattached the top of the desk to the frame, and I promptly forgot about the hidden key, until several years later, when I was running my hand underneath the frame, and I rediscovered it.  I put the key in the lock in the way it seemed to fit and turned it; first one way then the other.  But the lock did not move.  So I put the key in the lock the way it did not seem to fit.  I turned it the way most locks turn, and the lock did not move. I turned the key in the opposite direction and the lock did not move.  So I put the key back on its magnet and assumed it was a key for another purpose that the former owner had hidden on his desk.

A few more years went by and I rediscovered the key again.  I tried it again, with the same result.  I put the key back in its place and there it stayed until a few weeks ago when I found it again.

I decided to give it one more try.  And I found that if I put the key in the lock in the way it does not seem to fit, pull it out just a hair before turning it, and turn it anti-clockwise, the key locks the drawer.

All this time, I thought of this key as a secret key; or that the key held some secret.  But the secret that I discovered was that I had stopped trying before I had exhausted all methods of inserting and turning the key.

In the middle of my desk sits a rock with an quote inscribed on it.  It says, "In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."  The quote is from Albert Einstein.  He is saying that the key to life is to continue our search; to continue our struggle; to be willing to think beyond our boundaries; and to never give up.  Because just around the corner is a most marvelous discovery.

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