{This would be my third edition of this post as every time I press publish it disappears. I will not be beaten by technology though and you WILL read this. Ha. And for what it’s worth, I think it’s the best version. The third one’s the charm.}


I’m reading Broken Open {How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow} by Elizabeth Lesser.

I’ve barely started and already it’s amazing. {Not my most articulate or compelling book review ever, admittedly.} Something that really struck a chord with me was the chapter on the Open Secret.

I’ve always felt uncomfortable with that whole social practice of ‘how are you?’, ‘I’m fine, how are you?’, ‘I’m fine’, blah blah. As someone who has most often been described using adjectives like ‘intense’, ‘deep’, ‘sensitive’ {usually with the prefix ‘too’}, I find this kind of shallow and meaningless social banter dull at best, and quite excruciating at worst. Which is not to say I don’t frequently go along with it. 🙂

Or at least, until now. I may have a new perspective on this. In the book, Elizabeth Lesser talks about Rumi’s concept of the Open Secret, which is essentially that because we all follow this ‘I’m fine and everything’s great’ script, we often leave such interactions feeling somehow diminished, thinking the other person really has their life sorted and their shit together, and why don’t I?

The ‘secret’ being that of course beneath this very fine skin of human communication lie layers and layers of deeper truths; that we have a nagging sense of unease and we don’t know why, that one of the kids is struggling in school, that we are feeling stressed about money or work or our partner, or whatever. We don’t tend to mention these when someone asks ‘how are you?’ because perhaps we don’t feel we know them well enough, or we don’t want to bore or burden them, or there isn’t time, or we don’t want to seem weak.

Elizabeth Lesser writes:

“Rumi tells us that the moment we accept what troubles we’ve been given, the door will open. Sounds easy, sounds attractive, but it is difficult, and most of us pound on the door to freedom and happiness with every manipulative ploy save the one that actually works. If you’re interestd in opening the door to the heavens, start with the door to your own secret self. See what happens when you offer to another a glimpse of who you really are. Start slowly. Without  getting dramatic, share the simple dignity of yourself in each moment – your triumphs and your failures, your satisfaction and your sorrow. Face your embarrassment at being human, and you’ll unocver ad eep well of passion and compassion. It’s a great power, your Open Secret. When your heart is undefended, you make it safe for whomever you meet  to put down his burden of hiding, and then you both can walk through the open door.

{my emphasis}

Certainly in my own experience, when I bare the bones of where I’m at in response to the ‘how are you’ question with “simple dignity” ~ and without busting out the sad violins or painting a dramatic picture ~  I find I am met with variations of relief and recognition and instantly deeper connection. By being honest and open we allow others to feel safe to do the same, and remind them that underneath we all share this business of being human, and we are never truly alone in our struggles {and triumphs}. The same with the blog; when I am open and don’t pretend, it elicits heartfelt and heartwarming responses, as though we’ve all climbed into a box together and are nodding and smiling at each other, saying ‘yes, me too’.

So here’s my current truth: I am dealing with a broken heart, the loss of a dear friend, the simultaneous shattering of many illusions I did not even know I was carrying, and the scariness of stepping into new territory with no map. AND ALSO: I am blessed beyond belief with a comfortable, cosy and beautiful home a mere minute’s walk from the sea, I am surrounded by the pillowy comfort of loving and supportive friends and family, and I am embarking on a long held dream to be of service while living a creative inspired life.

How are you?xx