There are certain words that entice us with the unspoken promise that there is an answer to a question we may not be conscious of having. "Secret" is one of those words.
We are all looking for answers, for meaning...
· to understand: why we're here; what life is about; what will make our lives better;
· to learn what will help us: be better, be happier, be healthier, be richer, just be more, and possibly make a difference.
Consider the cachet of a document marked "Top Secret," "Confidential," or "Classified." Think about how you react when you see a sign on a door that says "Restricted" or "Private." Don't you start to wonder what makes that document or door so very special that no one else can have access to it?
What is it about the idea of a secret?
"Psst! Do you want to know a secret?" When we have a secret or know someone else's secret, it can make us feel special and mysterious.
"I've got a secret and you don't know it!" When we know that others have a secret, we are tantalized. There is something seductive about someone else's secret. We start to imagine what it is and we build up its significance in our own minds until we feel that we can't rest until we find out what it is!
Maybe it hearkens back to our childhood, when there was so much we didn't know and so much we weren't allowed to know. We were told: "Wait until you are older." "This is only for adults." "This is nothing you need to worry about now."
Our natural inclination was to be curious and to try to seek out the answers for ourselves from any source available (no matter how unreliable). If we were precocious or overly sensitive, we did start to worry and experience a sense of exclusion.
Then we grew up and became adults, but we still didn't feel that we knew answers. We were frustrated and angry because it seemed that other people knew the secrets and selfishly wouldn't share them with us.
So, when someone promises to tell us the secret to anything important to us, we are eager to learn it. Finally, we can get the answer that we have lived our entire lives wanting to know.
Or maybe we haven't necessarily needed to know the answer, but we are irresistibly drawn by the promise that a secret, any secret, is going to be revealed.
It's too bad I didn't have this epiphany earlier in my career. I would have started the title of each of my articles with "The Secret of... "