Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Post Secret

The Post Secret books are the result of a project started by Frank Warren in January of 2005. He began by leaving pre-printed post cards in various places, with a note asking people to send the cards back to him, anonymously, with a secret they had never told another person. In the beginning, just a few trickled in, and then a few more, and in a short time there was a steady flow of cards arriving at his Maryland address.

The woman who was the letter carrier on Warren's route during that time wrote a wonderful blog post last year, describing how the project unfolded from the post office perspective. She noticed the post cards as they began to show up to be sorted and delivered each day. She didn't think too much about them and certainly never turned one over to read it. But one day she dropped one of the cards and it landed message side up. As she bent over to pick it up, she couldn't help but see what it said: "I like to have sex with strangers." From that day on, life was a lot more interesting for employees at that post office.

Years have gone by, and the postcards keep on coming. Some have simple hand-written messages. Others are clever works of art. All are touching in some way.

Every Sunday, Warren posts a new crop of postcards on his blog. The Sunday Secrets have become part of my Sunday morning ritual, right along with coffee and the Sunday paper. Over the years, Warren has compiled these postcards into books - five of them so far.

What is amazing to me is that people keep writing about the same themes of love and loss, life and death, joy and betrayal, and yet each is a fresh expression. Of course, the same thing can be said of most books. And yet, this project is unique: for while reading other people's secrets might be life changing for a reader, finding the courage to share one of those secrets is undoubtedly life changing for the writer.