A Rock Feels No Pain

In despero , obscurum ; In Diligo , Lux lucis. (In despair, darkness; In Love, Light). -Me

PostSecret # 3

If you have been reading this blog for long, or if you’ve gone back and read the past, you may have noticed that the PostSecret project has a rather special spot in my heart. I wrote in a couple places about this- for sure here:. For those who may not know, PostSecret is a community art project that a man named Frank Warren started. He’s invited people to send him, anonymously, postcards with a secret on them; he then posts some to the PostSecret website; puts some in traveling exhibitions; and puts still others in books.

Anyway… I had enjoyed the website, and knew of the book, and remembered on that bright(dark) hot(freezing) day in 2006, that on the website a person had written to thank Frank, for the 1-800-suicide reference that occurred in the book. On that day, I was so messed up in my head, I didn’t remember the number; but I did remember that it was there and when I made my way to a bookstore, just to look at the book, there it was.

I called that number, that day- and never really said a word. The woman that answered was pleasant, but I couldn’t speak. I do know that I babbled something about needing to go, and called Lynn; from there, I worked along the paths of trying to get my head right, which I sortof kindof maybe think I may have made a little progress toward in the last three years. (3 years, 2 months, 3 weeks, and some odd-hours, if you’re counting, but who’s counting?)

But, I never forgot the fact that Frank Warren had a friend, who committed suicide, and however many years later, he opted to include this number in his book, and on the website; perhaps so some screwed up nut would be able to make use of it?

That memory stayed with me- to the point that when I read that Frank would be visiting a college near my work, one night, I made my plans and made my way to see him. I took a moment then, to meet and thank him, directly, as best I could, for saving my life even though he didn’t know he had.

Later, Frank was speaking in New York, at a big Barnes and Noble bookstore there. I took the opportunity then, too, to head down and hear him speak. This time, Lynn came with me, and when Frank had signed my copies of the new books, she looked at him, and said something about thank you and he’d saved my life, and that she’s grateful for his project, his books, and his whatever. I didn’t hear it all, as I’d gotten a bit emotional during the presentation when people can choose to stand, and share a secret right then and there; and let me tell you, some powerful things can happen, in a roomful of strangers.

So, why is this all in my head?

Because (yes, you got it!) tonight, I went once again to a PostSecret event. This one with my eldest son, who had obtained tickets at his university, and since I was going to be picking him up to come home for the weekend- well, he knows I love PostSecret, that I have the four books currently released in a place of honor on a shelf within easy reach, that I’d been to a couple prior events, that I love perusing the secrets each Sunday on line, so he thought he should see if I wanted to go again.

I did.

We did.

Wow. Again wow. I didn’t speak to Frank this time, I didn’t feel a need to, for I’d expressed my gratitude to him and Hopeline (the 1800 number foundation) before. But, as I listened to him speak, and listened to the brave people that shared a secret or a thought with us, I think I recognized why I felt that I needed to be there once again.

It’s to remember. To remember, in gratitude and with joy and with tears and laughter, to remember that I am not alone, nor are you. We share this journey together, in our common humanity, seeking and trying and stumbling and falling, together we connect with people all over the world. Separately, yet somehow still together, we seek God, we seek Love, we seek a partner, friend, lover, family; we have different secrets, different perspectives, different lives- but, if we choose to, we can reach out in whatever way, and find that we’re not rocks; we’re not islands; and that it’s okay to feel pain, and even to cry once in a while.

So, as we left the school, my boy-that-is-now-a-senior-and-I’m-around-to-see-it, as we left and drove home, we sang at the top of our lungs, together. Badly, I’m sure, but with enthusiasm and silliness and pounding the beat on the dash and the wheel, laughing and dumb jokes, and talking about what we’d heard together, I thought of this.

This time, Frank and PostSecret and umpteen hundred university students taught me to remember this:

We are only as alone as we choose to be.

Go visit Frank and PostSecret sometime. I know you’re as welcome there as I am, and the 270,607,242 others that are sharing on our way.

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Filed under: depression, emotions, frank warren, learning, life, postsecret, , , , , ,

Shiney Sharp

Always, in my toolkit, is a box of single-edge razor blades. They’re incredibly useful, for scraping, for shaving wood or fiberglass, for stripping and trimming wires. The other day, I was using a razor blade to work on a computer power cord, and I found myself almost overwhelmed by a cold rush of fear. I actually dropped it, as if it was burning my fingers, as if it was a snake that would lash out and strike. Just picking up this simple tool, this inanimate object, gave me such a horrid, cold feeling that I can’t really describe it.

Why? Because the lowly blade was going to help me, back in the dark, to find a way to stop hurting. Scary, to look back now, and see how close I came, more than once, to permanent darkness- for although I do believe in God, and heaven, I’m not so sure about getting there personally.

Thank God, thank Frank Warren and PostSecret, and Cassie of the 1-800-suicide story on that website, I’m not in that darkness, not now. No, these days, although I have my moments (probably too many of them), I’m able to laugh, love and function, I can get on with my days most of the time, and I can continue to seek out ways to shove the Black Thing back and away.

And, best of all- I can pick up that blade, that bit of shiny stainless steel, and use my hands to guide it, and repair a computer cord with it- and when done, put it away where it belongs, a useful tool that doesn’t have any larger place in my life, anymore.

And that’s a good feeling.

Filed under: depression, frank warren, postsecret, razor blade, suicide

Post Secret Friday night

Secrets, Secrets, and more Secrets. I spent the evening learning secrets, and it was fascinating. Yes, I was one of the lucky ones, that arrived at Ramapo College early enough to get a seat, at the PostSecret event that was held here Friday evening.

I don’t know the seating capacity, but the school enforces a capacity code, and some unknown number of people were unable to get in. Frank Warren, the creator and artist responsible for the whole PostSecret phenomenon is a great speaker, with stories and insights of his own, but truly, the secrets do speak for themselves.

It’s a mind-opening experience, to sit and listen to him speak, and share with the world his reasons for starting the whole project, and his reasons for continuing it. The hall was full of people, many carrying copies of one, two or even all three of the PostSecret books, but I truly think everyone there was fascinated by thinking that, however briefly and indirectly, their own secret might be shown to the world.

I know for me, the project, the first book, and Frank’s work with the art and 1-800-suicide have had a major impact on me. It was the first book, which had that number printed in it, and the website, which I had been reading often enough to remind me that the number was available, that saved my life one summer day last year.

Funny, about that- I did call the number, and it was answered- but, I really never spoke to the person on the phone, at all. I was so emotionally, spiritually, wrecked, I think I just said something like “Oh god, I have to go.” But, that was enough, for the moment. The simple little phone call, the person on the other end, just saying “Hi, what’s going on with you today?”… was enough to keep my hands from turning the wheel any further, and the bridge stanchion didn’t get to claim a life that time.

This was the second time I’ve gone to see the presentation, actually- the first time, I went into New York, with Lynn, and watched. I bought both books two and three that night, and we stood in line to have them signed, and to speak to Frank. In the end, I asked him to sign them, said something about the first book saving my life, and started to feel so overwhelmed with emotion I couldn’t speak. We left the store, and I’m not really sure if we were both in tears, or if it was just me; but I was so profoundly grateful for the acts of God that took place during that summer, that led me to being able to go and say thank you to a man I’d never met.

And now, when I think of secrets- why we love them so, why we cling to them as if they’ve become part of us, I imagine that we all have this box that lives in us, and sometime we should let them go. I know that sometimes, keeping a secret is just plain easier on the status quo, and sometimes, clutching it in ourselves might be the lesser of two evils. At least, we think so sometimes.

I made a friend last night, too, which was unexpected. I was walking in, and there was a woman who was also looking for the event, who had driven over from Connecticut. We chatted, as we looked for the room, and after the event had coffee and chatted some more. Very interesting, to realize how many, many people also feel this connection to the secrets, and the different ways that we both viewed and imagined the story behind some of the individual secrets.

She told me she’d sent in a secret, just a few days ago, and that it did feel good, to let go of it, to pass it on and give it away. Similar to how some of us use our blogs, I imagine- for me, I know that a big reason I write and post here, is to get rid of some of the baggage and thoughts and emotions that swirl around in my head and heart. (Of course, what I didn’t know, is that I’d start to meet and connect with other bloggers, and form interesting friendships that way- but I’m thinking it’s a wonderful part of it).

Pretty great evening, all in all- a fun way to start the weekend.

Filed under: depression, frank warren, friends, postsecret, suicide

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