Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Have A PostSecret

I have a secret. I have been harbouring it for some time, and this will be the very first time I reveal it to, well, anyone really. I suspect we all have secrets, things we wish we could share and that are burning to get out of us, and I have been honoured that many people have chosen to share their secrets with me over my life, where I keep them locked in the vault for eternity. My secret, though, is coming to light because of an announcement over at Keyano College that sparked me into revealing it. You see, the Students' Association at the college has launched an Anti-Stigma campaign, and it's all about secrets.

For the students this is about mental health and awareness of the cost of keeping secrets, particularly if those secrets become a heavy burden. It is designed to allow students to reveal their secrets by writing them down anonymously to be shared with others in the college on bulletin boards. And it is all inspired by a man named Frank Warren and PostSecret, and that is where my secret comes in. I am a PostSecret junkie.

Maybe you are a PostSecret fan, and maybe you aren't. It is such a simple thing, really, an initiative where people take a postcard or picture and add a few words, then mailing it away anonymously where it may then be posted on the PostSecret website or even in one of the hugely popular books. I have been visiting PostSecret for a very, very long time, every Sunday when new ones are posted, and over that time the secrets revealed have made me laugh, and cry - and feel that I was not alone.

You see secrets have a way of isolating us. When we keep our secrets and never reveal them we never have the opportunity to learn that others share the same secret, or the same thoughts, or the same feelings. When I had the honour to present at TEDx Fort McMurray in 2013 what I learned was the power of being vulnerable, of revealing those things we hold so close to us and find it hard to release. Some secrets, though, are so intimate that we cannot stand on a stage and share them, and so that is where the postcards and PostSecret come in. It allows the sharing of secrets, and the connection of minds, hearts, and souls.

As part of this initiative I was incredibly excited to learn that Keyano College will be bringing the PostSecret founder into our community to speak. The thought of him being here actually almost brings me to tears, because I think he created something so profound in this world of deep dark secrets. He provided a way for people to share these secrets in a safe way, and to connect with each other. Every week when I go to visit PostSecret for a few moments I feel I am witnessing people release their inner demons, and letting light shine onto the darkness. There are some who may dismiss it as voyeuristic entertainment, but I would argue this fiercely as I believe that it is, instead, a glimpse into the human soul.

I want to commend the students of Keyano College for their initiative on this, and for embracing a concept that as a writer (and person) I think has tremendous value and impact. I am so delighted that I will have the opportunity to see Frank Warren speak, and I can predict now that I will likely become emotional, because the sharing of secrets is a powerful thing. That I am a PostSecret junkie is now no longer a secret, but I suppose one might wonder if I have ever submitted a secret to that website for publication. I won't answer that directly, except to say that I have no doubt that small personalized postcards with a few well-chosen words scribbled on them have left this community, carrying with them secrets and whisperings of the heart. And that, as Forrest Gump would say, is all I have to say about that.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a fellow PostSecret junkie. I await each Sunday!

    Four years ago, my daughter and I went to the traveling PostSecret exhibition. It was so incredibly moving, emotional, and thrilling. The art gallery was silent as everyone walked around reading the secrets. I cried almost the entire time, not just because of the sadness of some of the secrets, but from the sheer honesty.

    I have also, excitedly, found TWO secrets...once on a fence while in the downtown Tim Horton's line up (the picture is on my Twitter), and the second, was in a book at Chapters I bought. I proudly keep it as a book mark, and when I'm done with it, I will tuck it back inside another book, back at the book store.

    Another wonderful post :)
    ps.. a huge congratulations on your award!! I'm so very proud of you, and it couldn't have been given to anyone more deserving!