April 30, 2012
Funny and poignant, heart-breaking and life-changing, the PostSecret Project brings people together by dismantling secrets. And it's coming to Pacific on Tuesday.
The crimes we have committed.
The lies we have told.
The fantasies we can’t confess.
The apologies we owe.
The abuse we survive.
The fear we overcome.
The heroes we admire.
The memories we cherish.
Everyone has secrets.
Big or small, serious or hilarious, life-changing or mundane, the PostSecret Project, founded by Frank Warren, invites people worldwide to share their secrets. It is, according to the blog updated each Sunday with select secrets, “an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.”
The project has spawned five books, an internationally touring art exhibit, a short-lived app (unfortunately discontinued due to abuse that overwhelmed the capacity of volunteer moderators) and a series of live events, the next of which takes place Tuesday, when Warren brings PostSecret Live to Pacific University.
I’m a big fan of the PostSecret Project. I own a couple of the books, and I look forward to Sunday mornings (sometimes really late on Saturday evenings) to see the latest updates on the blog site.
Some are heartbreaking, some are hilarious. Some shock my sensibilities, and others are like holding a mirror up to my heart.
There is great power in the sharing of a secret, even anonymously. Every now and again, the blog will share the after-story of someone who sent in a postcard. Many say that once they send their postcard, once they share their I-can-never-tell-this-to-anyone confessions, they suddenly find that they can tell their friends and family. They are no longer held captive by shame, embarrassment or fear. They are able to uncover an abuse or seek help for depression or mental illness. They are able to take steps to end substance abuse or move out of an unhealthy relationship.
Even more powerful, though, are the stories from people who just read the postcards, who see themselves in someone else’s confessions. Countless times, I have seen comments from people who say that just seeing someone else’s secret prompted them to make a life change or stopped them from committing suicide.
In a video about one of the PostSecret books, Warren says that after “you’ve experienced these spiritual, sexual, painful, hopeful secrets…I hope you care a little bit more about yourself, about your friends, and about strangers, and you feel more connected to all of them.”
That is the awesome power of this project: Showing us that, no matter what we have done, what has been done to us, what we are feeling, we are not alone. As human beings, we have a collective shared experience, and that brings hope.
If you’d like to share in that experience yourself, tickets are still available for the Pacific University event. It’s at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 1, in the Bill and Cathy Stoller Center at Pacific’s Forest Grove campus. General admission is $15, and tickets are available at boxofficetickets.com. Pacific students with valid ID can get a free ticket at the University Box Office, open Monday through Friday from 1 to 5 p.m.