Last night, I went to a PostSecret show. For those of you who don’t know what PostSecret is, here’s a quick summary. Essentially, it is an ongoing art project where people mail their anonymous secrets to Frank Warren. Created by Frank in 2005, there are only two rules: The secret must be true, and it must have never been told to anyone before. Every Sunday, Frank posts secrets to www.postsecret.com. Secrets have been displayed in books and art exhibits. And now, its own live, interactive show.
The show, performed in Pittsburgh at the Byham Theater, features three actors and a guitarist. Some secrets are displayed on a projector with the night sky and twinkling stars as a backdrop. The actors read some secrets individually, or read secrets that are part of a series, as sometimes secrets respond to others.
This show was, simply put, amazing. I laughed and I cried. Secrets fall all over the spectrum. Some are lighthearted and funny. Some are hopeful. Others are cringe-worthy. Heartbreaking. And there are those that are even disturbing. Most importantly, some secrets are relatable. Releasing secrets is supposed to be therapeutic for the owner. But for the listener, it can be a source of relief to know that they are not alone.
The most common secret is “I pee in the shower. The most common items sent are both sad in their own right – rings and razors. Some secrets:
I am proud of my gay uncle. I watched him beat another man with a flip flop!
I wear an ACDC shirt under my clergy robes.
I miss the stars in Iraq.
PostSecret has impacted lives in other ways, too. One woman, Amber, responded to a mother’s secret that she felt horrible for telling her child that Santa wasn’t real. Amber stated that her son had just written a letter to Santa, requesting a special toy. But Amber couldn’t waitress due to an injury and wasn’t getting child support. She couldn’t pay bills. She wished Santa was real. A college student, Molly, saw Amber’s secret and sent one to Frank wanting to know how she could get the present for the child. Frank had Amber open a PayPal account. Molly donated…and so did more. Enough that Amber was able to get the toy, pay bills, and buy necessities she had been putting off. Writing Frank to close the account, she said Santa was real. In each and every one of them.
There are stories of wanting to commit suicide and the people who reach out to strangers, begging them to stay. There are stories of lost love, found love, hopes, dreams, failure, death, and everything else. As my friend stated, it is “a rollercoaster of emotions.” (I suggest checking out my friend Kelly’s blog here) Kelly also said she needed the experience, and I understood exactly what she meant. There’s a lot of bad and evil in the world. You see that in the secrets. But there’s good in the world too. And that was what I overall took from the show. There is good in this world. Despite all the terrible things that happen, it is still possible to find good and to be good.
As Samwise Gamgee says to Frodo Baggins when Frodo asks what they are holding on for, “That there is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.” (Tolkein). And so there is. And it is worth fighting for! We may not be battling for Middle Earth, but we’re all fighting some type of battle in life. Sometimes we need that push. As one secret said, talking about a failed suicide attempt, “It gets better.” Life is messy and full of emotions, and this show shows it. It is an amazing experience, and there is nothing else like it. You have to experience it. I highly recommend it.