**I wrote this in 2010, and just stumbled upon it, unpublished. When I read it again I found that while I've changed in many ways in the last 6 years or so, this is not one of them.**
A Stolen Quote and my “Secret Heart”
So, to what do I owe this my return to my blog? Someday I might be a consistent producer, but for now I come only when I’m full to bursting, and I am. My friend Rachel posted this quote on Facebook…via Tumblr, which I have to admit I’m not cool enough to know much about . As I read it, it spurred a whole jumble of thoughts and memories in my head and I had to out them. I started to comment on the note… and then when my comment got to epic proportions, I cut the text and began to compose in earnest.
“The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them - words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller, but for want of an understanding ear.”
-The Body by Stephen King.
I really like that... really, really. It sums up rather succinctly a bunch of moments in my life that are all tied up with a nice bow and stuck in the back of my mind where I try really hard not to visit them too often.
Those moments are times when I’ve DONE the unthinkable… taken one of these important thoughts out and aired them like pearls to pigs. They’re times when I’ve received that “funny look” and it was painful beyond any reasonable explanation. I kept a literal file cabinet (not like the one in my head) from the time I was very young. Yes, it was an evidence of my emerging analytical nature, but in contrast to that side of my nature, it was filled with emotion… mementos that represented every imaginable personal connection. Most of the files were named for people. They’d contain a sugar packet from a lunch with a friend, a bottle cap from a shared soda… in at least one case a large plastic Snapple sign and (sigh…) letters and letters and letters. In a time before the common use of computers (I refuse to feel dated… too young for that) I hand wrote TWO copies of every letter (and there were many) to camp friends so that I could read and re-read them and revisit those moments. I put so much into those letters that I couldn’t bear to send them away and never see them again. I would open the cabinet to put things in it, and once every few months, and, eventually, years I’d pour over those items and be flooded with memories. I eventually (we’re talking within the last 3 years) had to steel myself to go through it and weed it down to things that I both could remember and wanted to remember.
A good deal of it was painful for me, because that period in my life – Jr. High and High School – was where I learned about the “funny look.” It was where I learned that baring my soul for someone didn’t necessarily end in them feeling honored or returning the favor, but more often than not ended with a painful experience. On the days I went through it I would often find myself sobbing in a puddle on the floor as if each of those letters was a piece and the whole of it depleted me. I can still feel it now if I let myself.
I find it interesting the way he uses the term ashamed to describe the way we hide these things. I wouldn’t have chosen that word… but I have decided it has its merits. As a young me I wasn’t ashamed. I thought myself interesting, perhaps even profound at times. It sounds impolite to say that, but I did, and, frankly, I think more of us should. I learned “better” though. The previously mentioned experiences taught me it is a “better” idea to guard myself. I’d still like to say I’m a fairly open person… but there’d be reason to debate. I now tailor my openness to the situation and party at hand. I’m pretty good at judging a person’s reaction before it occurs and I’m not likely to give them the opportunity to muddy my pearls.
I am feeling the need to add a disclaimer. Perhaps you assume this, but I look at those experiences through adult eyes and know that they were the result of interacting with immature people – otherwise known as children – and I don’t blame them, and I don’t blame myself – also a child. Still, as we all know, experience is reality. Whether or not it was legitimate, I was shaped by those interactions and I became who I am while they were playing out in my life.
It’s perhaps the reason why all of my deepest thoughts are expressed in writing. It could explain why when I feel the deepest love for my husband I say the least, because I want HIM to know how much the words mean to me and it’s insufficient to say “I love you.” Those words can almost be crass in comparison to the depth of emotion I want them to contain. They most certainly do “shrink” a feeling that seems to grow out of my toes and expand far above my head. It is with a half laugh that I admit to you I have spent at least an hour now trying to frame this very entry in a way that will make you, my dear reader, feel the words the way I do for just the reason Mr. King describes!
I have a notebook full of poems, songs, and (filling more pages than any other) started songs that never get finished. A phrase runs through my head… and it’s just RIGHT, and I need to keep it, and then nothing else is worthy enough of what I’m trying to communicate… and that’s as far as I get. No one reads my notebook. It’s hidden, and I’m not telling you where because for every word you read I’d be hovering over your shoulder trying to explain it… and you wouldn’t get it… and that would hurt.
I find his statement that these things "lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried." more than perfect. Any rejection of these thoughts is too close to a rejection of you. He describes this so well all the way till the very last line, and then it's not quite right. Perhaps the words are shrinking it, but "understanding" sounds too flimsy. My secrets are things that I don’t share not because I didn't think someone would understand me but because if they just understood, if the feelings associated with it couldn't better be described as resonance, if the weight of emotion did not equally bear down on them... I think I would be crushed.
There’s a popular song by Anna Nalick called Breathe (2 AM). I enjoy the song in general, but I love this verse because it talks both about the fear of sharing these bread crumbs to our “secret heart”, and also the drive that brings some of us far enough over the edge to risk it. I’ll leave you with her words.
“It’s 2am and I’m still awake writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me
Threatening the life it belongs to.
And I feel like I’m naked in front of a crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to.”