Thursday, July 24, 2014


Shhh!  Don't tell anyone...
Did you know...?
I am not sharing  this with anyone but you....

We all have secrets.  We all share secrets-- our own and other people's.

One of the things that amuses me about secrets is when someone has told me something in confidence, and then I hear the same something everywhere I go.... everyone having heard it from the same source.

Note to self-- I won't be telling that person any of my secrets.

What is your secret?

Perhaps you have a habit that you have hidden from everyone in your family or your circle of friends.
You smoke in your garage late at night or dance naked  in your bathroom  or eat ice cream directly from the container.

Secrets can be silly and harmless.
My fifth graders loved The Name of this Book Is Secret. This sly book kept them laughing and, at the same time, considering the complicated and diverse nature of secrets.

They went on to enjoy additional secretive books in The Secret Series.

Sometimes someone's happiness, well-being, or even their life depends on someone else keeping a secret.

I know someone who, while outside playing with friends, found out he was adopted.  The entire neighborhood knew the secret that he so casually had  just discovered.

That's the problem with secrets--someone always knows or finds out or guesses or otherwise outs the knowledge to at least one other person...  which means  the world at large.

Why do we keep secrets?

In Patricia Polacco's January's Sparrow, a family is on the run, traveling on the Underground Railroad.  The conductors and others who help them, as well as the family members themselves, must each be trusted to keep their secret.  The lives and safety of everyone involved depend on maintaining secrecy. It becomes second nature for them to avoid openness and honesty related to their travels and their background.

Perhaps your secret is bigger and deeper. Maybe you cheated on your spouse or...  murdered someone once.

Secrets can be dark and dangerous.

Secrets can turn worlds upside down, with ramifications that can last a lifetime and forever change relationships.  In Mississippi Morning by Ruth Vander Zee , the main character, after hearing horrifying details of the work of the Klan,  discovers that his own father is a member of this group-- the group that is terrorizing his friend's neighbors and family.

What is your deepest secret?

Have you ever discovered a secret about a family member or friend?

 We relish the knowledge of secrets.  We delight in knowing what others do not know.  We thrill in the excitement and power of holding a secret.

Not only do we muse about the secrets of folks we know, but we also ponder bigger, more comprehensive secrets.  Those things in human nature that we can't explain. Just what is that person's secret...?

Maya Angelou begins to let us in on the secret to her inexplicable appeal:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size 
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,  
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips. 
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

 Click here to read the rest of her secrets shared in her poem Phenomenal Woman.

 We can also ponder bigger secrets, secrets of the natural and supernatural world, secrets that we cannot begin to fathom. Secrets of the universe.

Emily Dickinson helps us ponder the unfathomable:

THE SKIES can’t keep their secret!
They tell it to the hills—
The hills just tell the orchards—
And they the daffodils!
A bird, by chance, that goes that way        5
Soft overheard the whole.
If I should bribe the little bird,
Who knows but she would tell?

Is this where we got the idea that little birds tell us secrets?
To read the remainder of this poem  from XVI, Part Two: Nature, click here.

And finally, no matter how much we examine, analyze, or ponder and meditate, there are some secrets that  we can never know.  Emily Dickinson expresses this in her poem, The Secret:

Some things that fly there be, –
Birds, hours, the bumble-bee:
Of these no elegy.
Some things that stay there be, –
Grief, hills, eternity:
Nor this behooveth me.
There are, that resting, rise.
Can I expound the skies?
How still the riddle lies!

What is your riddle?  What is your deepest secret?

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

Consider a secret about yourself or someone you know.

Write a fictional story in which this secret plays an important role in the plot?
How and why is secret kept?   Is this an appropriate decision?  Does the secret get discovered? If so, how?

Write a  personal narrative about a secret that is important in your life.

Or write a poem about the larger secrets of the universe.

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