Elvin Forest had several good hiking trails, so I would park my car and eat my lunch as I walked while I absorbed the good vibes of nature. I was ever mindful of the time because I didn’t want to be late returning to work, of course.
One day after a rejuvenating thirty-minute hike, I returned to the parking area only to realize that I had locked myself out of my car. I searched my pockets for my keys, but they were nowhere to be found. I looked inside the car, and there they were, still in the ignition. There was no spare time for me to call AAA for a professional jimmy to unlock the door. My only option was breaking the car window, which I really did not wish to do. Breaking a window to retrieve keys is a poor return on investment!
Even if I broke my window to get the keys, I would need green lights all the way back to the office just to be on time. I did not have time to wait for AAA service. Just then, another vehicle pulled into the parking area, and a middle-aged lady got out with a walking stick, ready for her hike. Suddenly my body surged with energy as I saw her fumbling with her keys. I knew without doubt that her truck key would open my car. It made no sense that a Ford truck key would work on a Nissan Sentra, but the feeling was strongly telling me otherwise.
Without another thought, I greeted the woman and told her my predicament. I asked her if I might try her truck key on my car. She assured me that there was no way it would unlock my car door. We compared the keys—totally different. I told her I just had a feeling that her key would open my car, and I had to at least give it a try. She gave me her keys and followed me over to my car out of curiosity. I gave her a wink, put the key into the slot and turned it.
The lock-nob popped up! It worked! The woman was visibly astonished as I returned her keys. I hopped into my car and drove off leaving a wall of dust in my wake. By then, I had just two tasks ahead of me: one, I needed to get back to work on time, and two, I needed to figure out how I knew that the truck key would work. By what mechanism had I received that information? Was there a spirit whispering in my ear? Did the car tell me? Was it the key that told me? And, if for example, it was the key that told me, how was I able to hear the voice of the key it when the woman could not?
By some small miracle I was not late for work, but my mind rode the key enigma like a wild stallion for the rest of the day.
As soon as I got home I told my roommate the story. Tim was an extremely intelligent person—a certifiable genius, actually. But his intelligence was a mixed blessing. For him, nothing could possibly be true that was outside of what modern science could prove or what the senses could verify. He was a devout atheist, and I knew even before telling him this story that he would not believe me. I told him anyway.
Tim was an unabashedly arrogant person, one who did “not suffer fools” as he so often reminded me. Obviously amused, he patiently listened to my entire story before bursting into laughter.
He reached into his pocket, pulled out his Dodge truck keys and said, “You mean to tell me that your car opened to a key like this?”
“No, the car opened to a Ford’s key, but your key will work too,” my mouth said with certainty.
Tim, laughing even harder, tossed me the key and said, “I gotta see this!”
We walked out to the garage, and I put his key in the keyhole with full confidence that the door would unlock. The nob popped up in a snap.
Tim was dumbfounded and yelled, “What the fuck!?!”
We walked back into the house. I sat and pondered the key mystery for a time and then suddenly energy surged through my body again as my hand reached into my pocket and pulled out my keys again.
I looked at the house key and said, “This house key will unlock it too!”
Sure enough, it unlocked the car door. Then, in a flash, I had the answer. I knew why all these keys were working. My Nissan had been broken into before I bought it, and the locking mechanism was destroyed and never repaired—almost any key would have unlocked it!
The lingering problem was that I knew why all of these keys could unlock the door, but I still could not understand how I knew. If Tim were in my exact circumstances at Elvin Forest, it would have never occurred to him to try another person’s keys, because his logic would not accept the possibility of another key fitting his door lock. He would have been forced to break his window or call for assistance, and he would have been late for work. How could I know, when Tim would not have known?
I spent a great many years asking these questions before I came to the understanding that I am about to share here. In retrospect, I needed to know out of ego. I wanted to create some sort of supernatural story out of the event—something grandiose to make me feel special. I wanted to know if it was spirit that told me, or God, or the key. I wanted to believe in something—or more precisely, I wanted the situation to fit a belief system, or at least to find a belief system that could account for this phenomenon—and I did. But years passed before I realized that the phenomenon happened regardless of any belief system, and that it was entirely unnecessary for me to have a belief system in order for such “knowings” to occur, so long as I was not opposed to such things when they came to me. What’s more, it is actually easier for these knowings to occur without any belief system clouding my mind.
It is surprisingly liberating to have no need for a belief system! There is no need to force every experience into the framework of a belief system if you simply do not have such a system. You can be more aware and more present simply by resting in the present moment, open to all that is, without trying to control it or grasp it with the mind. Truly, a marvelous state of being!
What are you willing to give up to be free? I can assure you, it won’t kill you not to have a belief system. I am living proof of this fact.