Can You Keep a Secret?
The duty of happiness becomes clearer when we see how it affects others. It is the merry heart that makes the cheerful countenance, and it is the cheerful countenance that spreads cheer to make other hearts merry. Hugh Black
Can you keep a secret? Can you keep a secret that is also a surprise?
I know most people would answer “Yes, of course, I can!”, but could you really be trusted with it?
Someone once told me something so obvious that it seemed absurd at that time. They said if you really want to keep a secret “secret” don’t tell anyone. It’s sage advice. I admit that when I’m the one who is imparting it I really weigh my options. I mean, who can you trust? There are risks and they can be high. It might just “slip out” and then you’re screwed. Your secret is exposed and, in my case, the surprised is spoiled; then who are you angry or disappointed with, yourself or the betrayer?
This past week I had a dilemma and had to weigh a lot of options. You see, I have a secret that is a surprise. My secret is that I’m heading to Calgary to visit my parents before moving to South America. Now my Dad knows because I need a lift back from the airport and I had to ensure that he wouldn’t be working. The surprise is for my Mom. I haven’t seen my parents for about 3.5 years and when I phoned home lamenting that I wouldn’t be able to visit due to work contracts and flight prices she kept telling me that I was going on a great adventure and that I had nothing to be sad about. I felt that she was being brave; you know, trying to hide her disappointment. An opportunity arose, and with the tiniest push from my boyfriend, friends and my boss, I decided to seize the moment. I have no idea the next time I will visit, so to say that I’m excited to see them and her reaction is truly a gross understatement.
So what’s the dilemma? Well I have three sisters and nine nieces and nephews and I really wanted them to share and be part of my excitement, but telling one might have lead them telling one of their kids and their kids talk to my parents almost daily. I couldn’t risk it. What to do, what to do? I told all of my students and friends who have absolutely no connection with my family whatsoever!! I couldn’t help myself. I needed to tell someone before I burst and then, after a fierce internal struggle, I relented and thought it was only fair to tell the sister who lives close to my parents (she would have needed time to arrange her work schedule, too). I made her swear 1000 times not to say anything. I somehow felt like that wasn’t enough; I needed something more, so I resorted to blackmail. No, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I consider it my insurance. This is sisterly love.
When you have sisters it’s difficult to tell a secret to one and not feel guilty about not telling the others. Ah, guilt is powerful. Damn. I don’t want to hurt anyone, so while waiting forever at the airport (my flight was delayed an hour and half due to snow in Calgary, *sigh*) I texted my sister in Northern Ontario and went through the whole secret screening process, again. Sadly, I have nothing that I can use as blackmail. I had to risk it; I had to trust. I made the right decision. Her reaction was more than I could have hoped for. Pure, unadulterated joy radiated through the characters of her text. It was infectious. I got an extra boost of “Yipee!!!” Man, I love surprises.
I will have to text my sister living in Europe once I land. And yes, I will still go through the whole process. What can I say, I’m paranoid. That cat hasn’t been let out of the bag and I’d like to keep it that way. I’m sure that she’ll be just as ecstatic. For the time being I’ll just revel in the fact that I’ve pulled it off. As for my mom, well, I’ll let you know how my feels about all of this.
Update: My reunion with my Dad at the airport was incredible. I practically ran down the escalator when the automatic doors revealed he was standing in front. I was greeted with a huge grin and a large bear hug. We got in the car, each of us acknowledging that we were co-conspirators in a grand scheme. He had it all planned out, all the way down to the excuse as to why he was late coming home.
We had a half hour drive planning my entrance. He’d pull up into the driveway and I’d go in first and surprise her. That went without a hitch. Now let me first say that people react differently to surprise; in my head my mom and I would embrace and cry and laugh. It hadn’t occurred to me that anything different would happen. I opened the door and danced, yes danced, my way over to my Mom and she stood like a statue. She was in shock, she literally stayed in the middle of the living room looking from me back to my Dad. I was an apparition. It wasn’t until a half an hour later that she said, “This is the best surprise of my life.”