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.
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.