Last Friday, I picked up the book “A Lifetime of Secrets”, a collection from the website PostSecret (http://www.postsecret.com/). This website has been a favorite of mine for a long time… you just anonymously send in a postcard with a secret or confession on it, made up to be a little “art project”. You can simply just write on it… or be as creative and complex as you want. A small bunch are selected (out of the thousands received) and are posted on the website… a new batch every week.
I quickly got addicted. It is simultaneously funny, touching, sad, thoughtful, depressing, inspiring, hopeful and haunting. I know many might think, “Why would you tell a complete stranger a secret of yours that you wouldn’t tell anyone else?”… but personally, I have no trouble comprehending that. For one, it’s completely anonymous… you don’t put a return address… there’s no way to track down who made what card, so you don’t know whose secret is whose. Two, sometimes we don’t like to keep secrets, but have to (or feel we have to) anyway. This is a safe way to finally get it out of you, and maybe step away from it. Plus, there’s an extra bonus. There have been several times where I personally identified with the “secret” that I saw… on one particular week, there were at least 3 secrets that I felt I could have written myself… like someone ELSE was telling my secret for me… and it was kinda liberating, because it felt like I wasn’t alone on that subject.
Face it, not many people like to truly feel like a freak… we just want to know that we’re *normal* healthy people. Capable and worthy of loving and being loved. But there are so many people that inwardly feel like they’re NOT. Maybe we compensate with attitude, or a tough demeanor, or a belligerent tone… or any of 1,000 other ways. And EVERYONE has something they just don’t bother talking about… a past event, a future hope, a thought process… something. And maybe a big source of problems (personal, relationship or whatever) come from the fact that we DON’T talk about them. I know how it can hurt more to NOT express yourself over something… and with so many people pretending to lead “perfect lives”… I find it hard to believe that most people aren’t feeling more screwed up than we think.
Now, for as long as I read the site… I never sent in a postcard myself. Several times I wanted to… and had many ideas of ones that I would send in, but never actually sat down and made one up. Some people that know me may think, “But you’re a straight-forward guy, I can’t imagine you having secrets.” Yeah, well, I do. (Hell, the 2 previous blog posts are all facts and secrets/quirks that most may not know about me…) Granted, I don’t cultivate an air of “mystery” around myself… if I did, I’d probably get more dates… but I do. Like I said, we ALL do. Well, given the date at the time (one of semi-significance for me), I was feeling particularly reflective. So that, combined with picking up this just-released book… I decided to finally sit down and do it. So, I dug out a box that sits in the back of my closet… one that sits there sealed and taped… opened it, took out the pictures, scanned in some notes, and on my computer made up a postcard. (No, I didn’t do it by hand, I’m kind of anal that way) The next day, I bought some postcard stock and then printed it out… addressed it and put on the stamp.
I had my Secret… ready to go into the mail. Now, it wasn’t no Picasso… nor was it any kind of earth-shattering message… hell, some people can probably guess what the subject of it is… so maybe it’s not much of a “Secret” after all. But its what I wanted to make, so bite me.
I brought it with me to the car, with the intention of making a slight detour, going to the town post office and dropping it off, then continuing back onto work. Well, I got on the road and figured, “Hmmm… I’m running a little late… maybe I’ll just go straight to work, and drop it off on the way home.” No problem, right? Well, I made it to the highway, and am driving on… and as I’m coming to the state border, I realize that I could get off at the last exit, and drop it off at this OTHER post office… one that isn’t as big a detour as the other one would have been. It’d be even EASIER to drop it off… and I hesitated. I kept glancing over at this homemade postcard with my statement on it… and debating when to let it go. It kind of hit me… that maybe I was making excuses for keeping it longer. “Oh, I’ll be late if I do”… then it’ll be, “Oh, crap… I forgot. Oh well, tomorrow’s another day.” Etcetera, etcetera. So, I just turned off… and went to the post office. The side streets were not difficult to get though in the least (wow, I should do all my downtown shopping in the mornings… it’s a piece of cake to drive through!)… and I got to the post office, parked, opened the door (didn’t even turn off the engine) and brought the postcard to the drop-box.
I hesitated. Again.
I don’t know why… I mean, its just a postcard… I’m not getting RID of the feeling it conveys (as much as I’d like to do that)… or saying goodbye to the pictures... they’re still at home, on disk, sealed back up in the box in the back of my closet. But I just stood there for a moment… looking at this postcard that contains pictures and notes that I hadn’t looked at in 2 years (albeit with faces blurred and cut off, and names obscured). Was it the postcard as a whole? Or did I just want to look at the pictures more? Why do I want to look at pictures I don’t want to look at?
I turned it over twice to make sure it had the right postage on… even though I knew it had the right postage since I put it on the evening before.
I knew I was just making up weird excuses… so I dropped it in. Got back in my car, and got to work (at the same time I usually get there).
That… was harder than I thought it was going to be. I thought the hardest part was going to be MAKING it… because when it comes to drawing or making pictures, I don’t think I’m that creative… I’m a writer, after all. I can THINK visually, but not that great at actually showing it, so I describe it. And once I got through the procrastinating, and figured out roughly what I wanted the card to look like… the hard part would be over. I figured dropping it in the mail would be the easiest part. But it wasn’t… and I’m not sure why.
Anyway… there’s no guarantee that it will be posted on the site… in fact, I’d bank on it NOT being posted. The guy gets thousands of them a week… its just not possible to post all of them, even if he posted new ones every day. I think if you send one in with the expectation that it will be posted… you’re doing it for the wrong reason. I’m hoping that the action of sending in this small piece of art will do something for me. I don’t know what… but maybe something. Maybe give a little relief in some way… who knows. Maybe that’s why I hesitated… because I secretly knew that it would do something… or because I secretly knew that it would do nothing.
But NOW I’m sure the hard part is over. Maybe the other postcards I make will be easier to send now.
Oh yes… I’m making more.