Tuesday, April 09, 2013

From Last Year's Letters of Gratitude: Secrets

I’m not particularly fond of secrets because they tend to encourage lies.  The second something becomes a secret, it morphs into something that must be hidden, and keeping anything hidden, especially long-term, is not only draining and next to impossible, but can be hazardous, even if the secret seems innocuous.
 “I’m not smart enough to lie.”  I’ve said it many times. 
In my younger years, one or two successful lies brought on enough guilt to deter me from lying frequently. In my teen years and early twenties, when I didn’t feel guilty, I learned lying was much too burdensome.  I wasn’t good at extricating myself from a tangled web.  The truth and its sometimes painful consequences, for better or worse, have usually served to set me free.
Around age 19, I stole a men’s, flannel bathrobe from a store I was working in.  A day later, I wanted to return the garment but knew I would be fired if I did.  I told my colleague and friends my secret.  No one thought less of me, everyone thought I should just keep the thing, and so I did.  I wore it often, half subconsciously because I didn’t want to waste an article that had cost so much spiritual and intellectual energy. I got rid of the threadbare robe only a year or two ago, but not before telling the story to my husband. 
Secrets, I understand, are sometimes necessary for things like national security.  But holding those secrets is expensive and painful and creates paranoia.  I would prefer a world in which we defended ourselves with truth.  What would happen if we just told everything?  Would the enemy triumph?  Or would they fall into such confusion that our wars would simply halt?
Perhaps the secret to peace is truth.  
Last year, I took part in the "Letters of Gratitude" course during which we were tasked to write 30 letters on 30 different topics until we reached a place of thankfulness.  Above is my 14th letter.
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