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A Lifetime of Secrets: A PostSecret Book Hardcover – October 9, 2007
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The award-winning PostSecret project's most profound and stunning postcards to date
For the past three years Frank Warren has invited people of all backgrounds and nationalities to send him creatively decorated postcards bearing secrets they have never before revealed. He has shared these PostSecrets on his award-winning blog, www.PostSecret.com, in an internationally traveling art exhibit, and in three electrifying books: the bestselling PostSecret, My Secret, and The Secret Lives of Men and Women.
Now, in his most extraordinary book yet, Warren again delves into our collective confessions, presenting a never-before-seen selection of provocative and moving PostSecrets. A Lifetime of Secrets lays bare our private fears, hopes, regrets, and desires, from people as young as eight and as old as eighty. From painful admissions of infidelity to breathtaking revelations and endearing sentiments, Warren's latest collection will shock and move readers of every age, revealing secrets that have haunted their creators for a lifetime.
Six PostSecrets from A Lifetime of Secrets
Here are six of the PostSecrets included in A Lifetime of Secrets, and never before seen online. Click on each image to see a larger version.
Frank Warren's Introduction to A Lifetime of Secrets
When I told my father I was collecting secrets from strangers for an art project, he didnt know what to think. I tried to explain how the thousands of secrets that had been mailed to me were more than mere confessions. They could be beautiful, funny, sorrowful, inspiring.
"But, Frank," he asked, "why are you soliciting secrets from strangers, and why would anyone tell you a real secret?"
I invited my father to fly out for a PostSecret art exhibit in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of the postcards were on display. More than 15,000 people came to see the secrets, and my father was there, day after day, to hear many of their transformative stories. Some people told me they recognized a hidden part of themselves on a strangers postcard. Others shared personal experiences of how talking about a painful secret had helped heal a lifelong relationship.
The exhibit came to an end and I took my father back to the airport to catch a red-eye flight home. During our drive we passed through a long dark stretch of highway when my father broke the silence by asking me, "Do you want to know my secret?" He bravely recounted a traumatic childhood experience. When he finished, we had a true talk that gave me a richer understanding of my father and recast our relationship.
For A Lifetime of Secrets, the fourth PostSecret book, I've selected postcards that show how secrets can reveal a momentary impulse or haunt us for decades and arranged them by age to follow the common journey we all take through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, maturity. Stretched over a full lifespan, the secrets expose the meaningful ways we change over time, and the surprising ways we don't.
The postcards narrate childhood stories that have never been spoken; they voice the guarded confessions of our parents and grandparents. They confirm that our rich interior lives are not defined by how old we are, and that with aging comes not only loss but also the possibility of grace and wisdom.
The following two secrets arrived in my mailbox the same week. The postmarks on each card were different, but when I posted them together on the PostSecret website (www.postsecret.com) they seemed as though they could have been written by the same person at two different points in her life.
I am a junior in high school. I have good friends and a loving family. I am smart. I am a good athlete and musician. But I would trade all that in if it meant I would be beautiful.
I spent my high school years believing I was UGLY. I just went through a photo album that had pictures of me over the last 20 years. Turns out I was/am kind of cute. No more wasting time on thinking otherwise.
When I give PostSecret presentations at college campuses, my hope is that people I have never met will be inspired to change their lives through the secrets and stories being shared. Not long ago, at one of my talks, it was my life that was changed, and the secret that inspired me came from a stranger in the front row.
I began my presentation by handing out blank postcards to everyone in the auditorium. I invited each person to anonymously write down a secret on a card and then pass it on. For the next hour, the postcards circulated and were read silently multiple times. At the end of my talk, I asked if anyone would like to stand and read the secret they were holding at that moment. A man in the front row stood up and haltingly read:
I wish I could apologize to my younger brother for the way I treated him growing up.He sat down and exchanged a long look with the young man next to him. After more volunteers read aloud some of the other secrets that had been passed around, I collected all the cards. The man in the front row handed me the postcard he had read from, and the two men walked out together.
His postcard was blank.
I have witnessed many times how the courage of sharing a secret can be contagious. When I realized that the man had been pretending to read someone elses secret and that the person he had left with was likely his brother, I was inspired.
Growing up, I was not an ideal older brother. As an adult, I have wished for an opportunity to apologize for some of my actions but did not want to open old wounds. I have not shared this secret with my brother . . . until now.
“A fascinating public airing of private thoughts. . . The range of efforts (meticulous, sloppy, artful, ponderous) will astound you.” (– TIME.com, "50 Coolest Websites of 2005")
“Humanity at its finest . . . And because of it I am falling in love with the world again.” (– A contributor on Postsecret.com)
“Standing in the midst of all this naked shame, guilt, anger and, yes, hope, you’re suddenly not so alone.” (Washington Post)
“[The postcards] are mini-works of art. All of them are riveting …” (USA Today)
“Warren has tapped something mystical.” (Philadelphia Inquirer)
“Frank Warren gives the postcard unexpected lucency by reproducing hundreds of cards from an ongoing public art project … .” (Los Angeles Times)
“You’re bound to feel, after reading these things, something like a deity on the receiving end of the world’s prayers.” (Salon.com)
Top customer reviews
From there, a series of books has emerged and this is the latest. Think of it - starting from anonymous postcards to build into a popular Blog and now this book.
Okay, I'm sure you want to know about the secrets in the book. Writing from a personal perspective, I got vicarious satisfaction from reading about urges that some people had (for revenge or to satisfy a desire) that I'd also shared. People wrote of having affairs for revenge, of unrequited love, of taking LSD at Disneyland and having sheer terror.
One of the most amazing things about this book? How touching it can be to read of all the hidden emotions that people rarely feel comfortable talking about -even to their closest friends. It is a confession, of sorts, sent out to the world. Some people have come forward and told me of postcards they've sent and of how "relieved" or "lighter" they'd felt afterwards so I think my confession analogy isn't off base - in some instances.
This is a fascinating and evolving community and project and the book is a rare chance to get a glimpse of what is often hidden behind social conventions. I urge you to have a look at this one!
But as it happens in every aspect of life, after i became a constant visitor to the blog, i gradually lost that surprise effect and got used to that expected level of emotion... Even though i still loved the site, it became usual to me.
Then i got this book. It's the first one i've got. As i went through its pages i felt that primary feeling growing back inside me. The arrangement of secrets along a timeline, covering a whole lifetime, gave the chance to watch the growth of a person, sometimes myself. Near the end there was this strange impression that i had a child, who i watched grow old, loved, understood and identified with myself, as if we had spent our lives together, gone through loving, funny, scary and sad moments, and moved on. Through these time steps i could feel again that first surrender emotion, as if i had given myself completely to another person. I can only imagine what it feels like to those who actually share a secret.
It really is a great book, even with such few words... Which, actually, with the help of the personal artwork, brings a level of "straightness" that rarely appears on real books. The story (there is, indeed, a story) seems much more real and tangible than many novels, and this ability to see ourselves in those secrets is key to this book. That's what moves us so much.
Now that i've fully read it (which didn't take long, being so compelling), the book lays on my coffe table just waiting for me to want to remember. It kinda works now as a family album. Whenever i feel nostalgic i can open it and take me to my memories. It'll even take me to the future!
Well... I hope that whoever reads this gets to understand my english. And if you already like the blog and is thinking about getting this book, i trully recommend it! ;D
If this one does stand out from the others, it is because it seems more planned than the previous volumes. Instead of a random or even thematically linked series of postcards, this volume attempts to tell a story--the story of a life through secrets. Granted, these secrets could not all come from the same life; however, there is a progression in them that does give the impression of a life story.
I am a great fan of the PostSecret project. Though I have never felt bogged down by secrets in my own life, something about these postcards speaks to me. I hope these books continue to appear.