Dependably discreet. Known or shared only by the initiated. Beyond ordinary understanding; mysterious. Something kept hidden from others or known only to oneself or to a few. Something that remains beyond understanding or explanation; a mystery. A method or formula on which success is based.
That’s what a secret is. All of the above. Some of the above. A mix of the above.
We all have secrets. We may not know anyone else’s secrets but we know that everyone has secrets; we’re not alone to this end. Secrets … they’re always there, barely palpable and yet vibrant in their existence. They are the subtitles beneath the moving pictures of our lives like fleeting expressions scribbled between socially acceptable commentary.
The thing is, the word secret has a seductive feel to it no matter how it’s said. The word is delicious in its own wicked way. And it hasn’t done anything at that point to sound forbidden except to exist as a word.
The telling and keeping of secrets is a time-honoured social tradition. As far back as we have the written word, we can find countless examples of people telling, keeping, and betraying secrets. We share secrets with others and are told secrets by others; that’s part of the secret of life.
The fact of the matter is that secrets are all about trust, strength of character and integrity no matter what the secret may be. And part of what makes someone worthy of guarding secrets is in their demeanour. If you are the holder of another’s secret, it’s not enough to just know the secret and to keep it to yourself.
Back in the 30s and 40s, those who listened to radio programs would hear the Shadow ask, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?“
And he was right because secrets, or actually the sharing of secrets, can prove dangerous. It’s not that secrets themselves are treacherous but rather what most people do with them — once a secret is found out — that’s dangerous.
The trick to living with secrets is to respect them while at the same time controlling them. The secret and secret-keeper dance a dance that is unique to them, where the secret-keeper must always lead otherwise the dance falters and the vestiges of openness and casualness descend into the secret’s world of exacting rules and demands.
Are secrets then, always a bad thing to have and a bad thing to keep? No, not always. But rest assured, keeping secrets is always a question of choice.
Is it wrong to keep a secret from someone when it has life-or-death consequences? It depends on how the secret would destroy that other person’s soul. Sometimes secrets must be kept and sometimes secrets must be told. And this is why secrets force secret keepers to dance the dance with them.
If someone asks you to keep a secret, this is not something to be taken lightly. You must decide for yourself if keeping that person’s secret is a dance you wish to dance. Keeping secrets ought not be a casual and carefree affair. Keeping secrets is a responsibility to be seriously considered and weighed before accepting.
Still, the word is deliciously decadent in its own wicked way, isn’t it? And we all love to be in on a good secret.