The day I got the keys to my apartment, I went inside and out more times than I have in the time since. From the weathered brownstone steps to the then bare inside space, I was elated. Still, no matter how many times I would put my key into the doors, the experience felt somewhat new.

I was used to heavy doors; my family’s home had history behind it too. Build before WW11, it was one of the few new constructions that started and was completed in the midst of The Great Depression. When my mother first cut me a set of keys at age 12, I felt like I was the prodigal son getting his whole inheritance in one lump son. Home keys meant some kind of liberty then, if nothing more freeing than to be able to race my parents inside the house while they sat in the driveway listening to the last bit of their Bill Clinton audio book.

Having keys to a new place came with a different feeling. It was freedom and whole lot of responsibility as well. When I was 12, having a set of keys was about feeling grown. Now having them was actually acknowledging the fact that I was.

Perhaps this is why next to my brand new set of keys, on another ring hang the keys I used for years to get into the house I grew up in. Call it attachment, but keeping the old keys on my bunch serves as a reminder as to why the new ones are so special.

Looking at the way many of us handle new phases in our lives, I can’t help but think some of us could do well to hang on to our home keys. So often we’re told not to bring old baggage to a new level that we do our best to eradicate our pasts. The problem is our pasts are often the necessary contrasts for us to choose the right path for our future. But it is often so much easier to remember the hurt of your past than it is to remember all the joy.

Chuck Palahniuk, known for his iconic novel, Fight Club, remains to this day one of my favorite authors. One reason is that he actually responded to a letter I sent with a handwritten letter of his own and two, is that for all the fame Fight Club amassed, he still put out other classics that remain relatively unknown. In his book, Diary, he writes, in his typical wry wisdom:

“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.”

Today, choose to learn from the peacefulness that came before. Embrace what is shiny and new but remember the memories and lessons from your home keys.

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