Thinking to start a community art project, Warren invited people to send anonymous postcards sharing a secret they might be otherwise too afraid or ashamed or embarrassed to admit, and he encouraged creativity. The site became a wonder – funny, sad, touching, infuriating, gross and chilling – it was full of people being people. The site is updated every Sunday, and every Sunday night, I would find myself clicking in to see what my fellow human beings were thinking and feeling, and I was never surprised to discover that our angst and our agonies are more similar than they are different; we are all creatures of dark and light.
Building on the success of the site, Warren has just released Post Secret, published by Regan Books (and available at Amazon via the bookshelf – see the sidebar). It is a little gem – a hefty book that seems as heavy as the sometimes weighty thoughts and feelings exposed within. There is one creative, colorful postcard confession after another – all of them little works of art, which will make you laugh or grimace, or grieve or even turn away in disgust – all of them feeling relentlessly real and true. A priest once told me that people get themselves all worked up over going to confession because they believe that their thoughts and sins are unique and therefore scandalous. “If they only knew,” he said. “I have never heard anything in the confessional that I hadn’t heard before. It’s not boring, but it is very sad to realize how much people beat themselves up for the things we all struggle with, every day.” I think he would appreciate this book as people’s exhibit A, evidence of his own observation, that we are “all in this together.”
Montaigne said there was no man alive who would not deserve hanging ten time over were his darkest thoughts ever revealed. Conversely, Thomas Merton said we are all walking around “shining like the sun.” They were both right, and Post Secret is a wonderfully vibrant proof of it. If you are feeling slightly out of touch with humanity, either because you think you are better than others, or because you think you are not good enough, a few minutes between the pages of this confessional will bring you back. I heartily recommend it, both for art lovers and people-lovers, and even for the haters. Maybe especially for the haters.