the consequences of knowing

I've been thinking about secrets lately, especially since I received a secret gift in the mail. I desperately wanted to know who bought and shipped my wish list items. It gnawed at me that there was no packing slip. I had no clue at all who'd thoughtfully sent me a Christmas gift. I imagined a blog reader, perhaps someone I didn't know in real life who lurked and read but never commented. That seemed improbable and a bit strange. So, then I thought maybe it was my brother to whom I'd emailed the link directly. But then why wouldn't he include a note? I tried to let it go because I wanted to be appreciative. But the anonymity of my benefactor was instead filling my thoughts.

Today, the giver revealed him/herself and I was relieved to know that it was an old flame who, it turns out, had an incredibly difficult year and wanted to share something nice with me because s/he knew I would appreciate it. I must assume that s/he is a blog reader and don't want to discomfort him/her by saying anymore.

It's funny, though, that the secretive nature seems to simply have been an oversight on amazon.com's part. There was a Merry Christmas message that got lost in the shuffle. So it was a secret that never was meant to be a secret.

Secrets have a way of strangling energies. There is a weight that comes from keeping secrets, from having information you might not want. I learned this with my administrative duties. I didn't imagine when I began the position that I would know so much I never desired to know. And then I was stuck with it because of confidentiality expectations. It's why those of us on the leadership team bonded: we had to talk to someone and all we had was one another.

I guess that's why people in secretive positions like the FBI, CIA and other government affiliates, police officers, firemen not to mention the military have such a tight-knit bond to one another. There isn't anyone else who understands the burden of knowing too much, too often. There's a mythology, though, that comes with the territory of bonding, of surrogate family-hood. And secrets end up crushing people. The code of silence that accompanies certain kinds of knowledge isn't always appropriate or helpful. In my experience, it hardly ever is. But still, there it sits, residing in us, creating obsessions. We must KNOW the secret.

When people ask questions like: "If your partner were cheating would you want to know?" Some people might say, "of course" or "no way" without considering what knowing and not knowing would mean. Once you know, there is a question of what actions you'll take. And not knowing means not taking action. It's more complex than just hearing the secret spoken aloud. It can take on a life of its own, a secret. And when the secret is revealed, it's never what you expected. In most cases, you're never fully prepared for the consequences of knowing.