Secret breathing

Of all the human impulses, I think the desire to be known is the most insistent. From the mischievous child who peeks from behind the sofa during a game of hide and seek just in time to catch her parents' eyes to the more serious - the threat never carried out, the choices that cannot be undone and the risks not taken - we harbor a sense of self, ineluctable and far too-often unspoken, that nags. We want to be known for who we are and who we'd like to be, and rebel against characterizations that target that core. Yes, sometimes changes need to be made, particularly when we harm ourselves or others. But if you've ever sat at the wrong cafeteria table in high school, you know that some judgements carry unwarranted consequences. Women will relate to Ashley Judd's stand-up reply to the oh-so-certain and very public recent commentary on her "puffy" appearance. I think more men should.

Me, I'm a bit nebbishy. Although much better as a I've grown older, I still miss social cues that others, more attuned to group dynamics, see and harmonize with their own desires. I can come across as overly earnest to some people. I learned early on as the son of a pastor, however, that the individual has incomparable value, and spent time over the years on visits with marginalized people who had been pushed away. Convinced they had nothing to offer, some had exiled themselves. I'm thankful for those experiences because I learned that secrets have a physics all their own. And as someone who can get happily lost in books, I learned that the secret holders had flesh and bone, that secret-holding was, in fact, the normal, shallow respiration of people who just wanted to breathe deep.

I learned they had something to say.

PostSecret has been collecting anonymously sent secrets for several years, and some of the stories connected to them were told recently by the web site's founder, Frank Warren. Watch.