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Secrets and confessions

The newest book to Warren's collection of confessional post cards.
The newest book to Warren's collection of confessional post cards.
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It is said that the only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead.  For this reason, many of us don’t share our secrets, especially ones that would reveal what kind of person we truly are.  I’m not talking about me sharing with the world that I’m a Twilight fan.  I only feel slight embarrassment for that and only because I’m 37 years old.  Considering the books are now out on my living room bookshelf and I don’t have a teenage daughter, I’d hardly call it a secret anymore.  Plus, being a Twilight fan doesn’t maim my character any.  You might snicker to yourself and think it’s silly, but you’re probably not going to look at me and be inundated with mixed emotions that result in laughter, shock, or disgust.

          What if I told you I wished my husband’s mother was ‘mauled by a bear… a very violent bear’ or ‘that I’d rather cancer kill him (my husband) than face the overwhelming sadness that our 14-year marriage is failing’.   These aren’t my secrets, but they are other people’s secrets, ones they couldn’t look someone in the eye and admit without stirring up one sort of hornet’s nest or another.  Some of you are thinking the first one just might be my secret, but I assure you, it isn’t.  I’d have wished for a, well, that’s my secret.  How did I come to know about these secrets, plus many, many more equally disturbing?  I read them in a book titled Post Secret: Confessions On Life, Death, And God, compiled by Frank Warren.

            Back in 2004, Frank Warren began working on a community project where he asked people to ‘artistically’ and anonymously confess a deep and dark secret to him, on the format of a post card.  During the four years that followed, nearly a half-million secrets have been sent to him, from all over the world and in many different languages, and Warren has printed five books full of them, had a blog where he posts them that over a quarter-billion people have hit, and sets up exhibits to display them.  I used to envy Martha Stewart because she gets paid to do the stuff I enjoy doing.  I now envy Frank Miller, because he is the keeper of the deep, dark secrets.

            I imagine being privy to this kind of information can’t always be easy.  Sure, there are plenty of secrets that make you laugh and plenty that take the words right out of your mouth and the thoughts right out of your head.  There are even some that make you proud, like the ones where people admitted to their random acts of kindness, and remind you that there are truly unselfish and altruistic people that live and walk among us.  But it doesn’t prepare you for the heartbreaking or selfish and undermining secrets where people admit to sabotaging relationships of others or being responsible for other’s deaths.  Some are so shocking and appalling that you don’t know whether to feel angry or cry.  Or both. 

If nothing else, these books will get you thinking.  You know what it’s like when you’re thinking and alone in your own head, where no one else can get in and see how you really feel.  It’s a lesson in being human, and knowing that even you are as capable of the sinister as you are the honorable, and that you are not alone out there in those feelings because they are human nature, and it makes you feel a little less judgmental of the majority of secrets.  I found these aren’t the kind of books I’m going to find myself discussing in grave detail with my friends, where we analyze other people’s motives and come to an agreement that certain individuals are without a doubt, severely f#@ked in the head.  Some of the confessions were definitely, well, f#@ked up.  I can’t bring myself to feel anything more than pity for these individuals.  Just remember, thinking bad things doesn’t make you bad person, acting on them, well, might.  If your guilt becomes too much to bear, you can always send Frank Warren in a post card.

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