The book Post Secret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives has kept my attention lately. I was first introduced to this anonymous yet very public community art project while visiting a local writer’s group called Mourning Dove. It was an inspiring evening with some enlightened and emotionally available folks. At the end of the workshop, the group’s leader, the unassumingly prolific Nita Andrews, shared some “postcards” from the book.
The premise is simple and yet so completely brilliant. The book’s author/compiler/art installer Frank Warren handed out blank postcards to strangers in public places. He asked them to share their most private and intimate secrets on the cards and send them anonymously back to him. The result was, and multiple books later is, the public airing of humanity’s dirty laundry.
Here’s the back cover with some example post cards:
The confessions range from winning the lottery but not telling family to prevent sharing the wealth, to cooking and loading a meal with meat … for one’s vegetarian sister. Actually, some of the secrets are much darker and intimate(?), and every time I type them here I immediately press delete. Guess I don’t even have the guts to anonymously write someone else’s anonymous secrets. Sheesh.
Here’s my favorite entry in the entire book.
I have made six postcards, all with secrets I was too afraid to tell the one person I tell everything to, my boyfriend. This morning I planned to mail them, but instead I left them on the pillow next to his head while he was sleeping. Ten minutes ago he arrived at my office and asked me to marry him. I said yes.
I so love this entry because it speaks to such a longing in us, the humans. To be truly known, deepest and darkest secrets and beyond, and still loved? What an amazing gift. What courage and generosity of spirit it takes to share those things which keep us stuck in ruts. There are quiet nooses wrapped snugly ’round our necks, and they choke us with lies like: You’ll never be good enough. They’ll never accept you. He would never love you if he knew.
What a load of crap.
We human folk were meant to know one another and be known. Of course, we all do things we’re ashamed of–things we’d rather forget and certainly won’t forgive ourselves. Secrets can plant seeds of doubt. That doubt can take root in fear. That fear becomes a foothold. That foothold can become a crippling agent. And so it goes…
That’s why the above entry struck a chord with me; she wrote down the unspeakable and brazenly left the cards for her love to find. The thoughts probably resonated in her: This is so over. He will never forgive me. We’re through. Imagine the wholeness that’s felt in being accepted and loved even more because of shortcomings or past wrongs. He had to immediately come find her and make her his own. Sweet redemption of a once thought lost cause.
To be known. To loved. Mmmmm-hmmmm.
Peace out and Amen.