Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Whether you put it to work as a noun or an adjective, secret is an emotion-charged word, a whisper campaign, a hidden presence that hovers over conversations, intentions, and agendas; it is an impromptu explosive device of human behavior, lurking prepositionally in the vicinity of any human transaction. Secrets do not even have to be shared. You have at least one, perhaps even more,artfully kept from yourself. Then there is that interior place called the secret heart where you store any number of dreams and ambitions, some artistic, some political, others yet a seethe of lust and additional others of a schadenfreude nature. Over time, you may have shared some of these with those close about you, the remainder fluttering about your interior recesses until such time as you are able to act on them, dismiss them, or simply take them out to count, much as a miser enjoys his collection of art or hundred-dollar bills, or baseball trading cards.

Secrets are the essence of covert, occult information, a catalyst for conspiracy in that those who are in on the secret are informed at the potential pain or disadvantage of those who are not in. Secrets are not democratic nor are they meant to be; they provide by their very nature a boost in status to those who know. Secretive persons are not preeminently trustworthy; even the suspicion that an individual may be secretive casts a shroud of negative ions about him or her, making us less likely to tell or express opinions that may be confidential, which, by the way, is the first giant step toward a secret. When a person tells you something in confidence and/or swears you to secrecy, your first response may be that of having been flattered by this elevation to such a lofty position as confidante, but on closer consideration, you begin to wonder if you are not being manipulated, adjured not to tell as an insurance that you will in fact tell. Sometimes you begin to look for ways to become temporarily or permanently miffed with your confidential source so that you can, as a gesture of retribution, reveal the information you were told in secret.

The essential nature of the human condition is curiosity, the wish to know intimate secrets of individuals you admire for one reason or another. Your sense of suspicion may have already led you to wonder what goes on in the secrecy of a particular individual's life, thus you seek validation for your curiosity. Sometimes a secret may become the currency of a deep bonding arrangement between you and a friend; it may also be a bribe offered a lover to keep that remarkable individual eager to remain within the radar of your own remarkable personality, an inducement to bridge the ordinary layers of protective coating you both wear. That's no big thing as a secret, you tell her, relishing her secret but eager for even more. You were drawn to her in the first place because of her mystery, what answers you might find in her eyes, what ease and comfort to your being in her embrace, what confidence and inventiveness to gather from the mere intimacy of presence with her. You recognize she, too, is curious about you, thus you both trespass on the mine field of familiarity. You walk more upright but also with greater care for fear that the thing that has attracted her to you is a fire that can be fed only by the fuel of your confessed or shared secrets. You recall the time you were helping someone paint the interior rooms of a house when you began exchanging secrets as if knowing precisely how the conversation had turned from mere flirtation to seriousness of intention. You reached for the home run, the long ball. When she heard it, she set down her paint brush, took yours from your hand and the rest became history. Even while you were enjoying the rewards and consequences of your revealed secret, you knew it would be impossible to expose a deeper secret for later use. Not unless you improvised some secret. And you knew enough to know you could not do such a thing.

In some ways, secrets related to romance are emblematic of secrets in general; they help define you to yourself. It is no secret to you that openness and discussion are essentials of any relationship you hope will last, thus your return to this not so secret thing you so enjoy doing, setting forth stories of individuals who are mirrors of yourself and completely opposite you at every turn. You use the telling of stories to reveal secrets first to yourself, then the page, and in good time to anyone who would come along to glean them and make of them what and how they will.

It is a certainty that you will reveal secrets; it is hoped for but not necessarily a certainty that you will learn from the revelations, using neither staunch honesty nor subterranean secrecy as weapons but rather as lenses through which to reflect humanity.

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