I sometimes think there are hidden secrets in our lives. Not things that we don’t want to tell people, or things about which we’re embarrassed, but the kind of secrets the universe knows but we don’t. There are actual things, objects, gifts that we meant to give, that we even wrapped, where we even wrote that last minute card at the checkout counter for a birthday party that we ended up saying we were too sick to attend–but really at the last minute we just felt too fat, or too hot, or too tired, or too full to go. Now the present is sitting there, that book that’s still wrapped, at the bottom of our closet, and it’s kind of waiting for us to discover it again. Maybe it was meant to be in our lives, and maybe we’ll unwrap it and read a passage in that book, and it will change our lives.
I love the idea that it doesn’t just happen with things but also with people in our lives. Maybe there’s an old receipt in our closet, and we find it, and Oh, my God, you know what? I’m going to return that thing, that shirt that I bought that I never wore. Because the store says you can return whenever, and they have a really easy return policy, so you return it and meet your best friend.
It’s comforting, inspiring really, to know so many possibilities are hidden in our lives. Whether it’s some business card at the bottom of an old handbag, or the label on a sweater that belonged to your grandmother—one you decide to research, to see if the company is still around, and then you find something else, something new, something you never would have discovered a passion for if you hadn’t taken the moment to look. And it was just sitting there, ignored, right there within reach, as you droned on wondering what you’re doing with your life.
I just love the idea that there are “secrets” in our lives that prompt us to live our days differently. We can all look around, wherever we are, and find something, an actual object, that can change the course of our lives. Looking up at your closet full of perfume, you might realize you don’t actually wear any of them anymore, so you decide you’ll get a new fragrance. After a day of spraying, waving, fanning, and sniffing coffee beans, you decide there are no fragrances out there that really suit you, so you begin to research fragrance, thinking maybe I’ll design a fragrance. And one day you’ll be telling this Once Upon A Time story to a reporter, many years later, who wants to know how you got your start. What was the motivation, the driving force behind your empire? They’ll want to know. And your answer will be: curiosity. Simply looking up and noticing. I believe that’s the key to an active life and mind: remaining curious. Life is never dull when you encourage yourself to learn.
Our lives are rich with possibilities, yet we have crowded to-do lists and TV shows to watch, calls to make, emails to send, dry-cleaning to drop off, diets to start, that we rarely notice the small gifts, the tiny secrets, there just waiting to change our lives. Instead, we barrel through our habits and rituals, our routines and our way of doing things, without even questioning Why am I living this way anymore?
They’re such gifts, doors really, and yet we ignore them. Assume we’re just wasting time, creating busy work. It’s why I call them “secrets,” because all these detours are secret entrance-ways to a different life. Our lives can go in such different directions if we choose to pursue any of them or choose to open our eyes and realize I don’t have to live the life that I’m living right now. I can actually choose a new one.
I can stop everything (gradually, of course) but I can! I can decide tomorrow that I’m going to research film classes, review their reading lists and go ahead and read all the should books and see all the should films, then write my own film in my research. Who knows, and that can be my thing and the people I meet along the way can be the ones with whom I’ll grow old—my mentors, my dinner companions, the people with whom I’ll vacation, my first thought when I receive an extra ticket… the friends with whom I’ll visit the museum, the ones who’ll notice the little girl with her arms outstretched, flying over lily pads and believing anything is possible.
A YEAR AGO: Nuclear Results and False Negatives
5 YEARS AGO: Sample Sale