And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.Roald Dahl
Pause for a moment, close your eyes, and let your mind wander back to the time when you first learned about secrets. Perhaps a friend leaned close, cupping her hand and whispered important information in your ear. Maybe your mother included you in the secret of a gift for another member of your family. Do you remember when you first shared a secret of your own with another person? In those moments, you were a co-conspirator. An insider on something wonderful and magical. All of a sudden, you knew or shared something generally unknown. In that moment, you learned that a secret was powerful and you wanted to hear more.
Growing up, the world was full of secrets. Everything was new. In the fertile fields of your imagination, anything was possible. Books introduced you to thoughts and ideas you never imagined while instilling a sense of wonder at what else might be. The real world in which you walked was no less fantastic as you came to know its secrets – animals, places, people, things, activities, science, history, art. Each day began with new secrets to share and you absorbed everything with innocent fascination.
Time went on and the known began to replace the unknown. You learned to delineate between the possible and impossible. The fantastic mysteries of your childhood became the normal day-to-day of your adulthood and the far-off lands, people, and things of your imagination were replaced by the urgent realities of existing in that known world, among known people, doing known things, to survive in your known life.
Unknowingly, you stopped looking for secrets. The mystery of the unknown slipped away and you replaced it with the necessary or the entertaining. Distracted by the imagination of someone else, you stopped yearning for your own discoveries and let others present theirs, or at least a version of something they dreamt up. Finally, secrets no longer held sway over your imagination and you were left with the known, the obvious, the immediate, and the entertaining. That youthful yearning for secrets was replaced with waiting for something new from someone else: on TV, at the movies, or on your phone.
What happens to us when we stop believing in secrets? When we feel that we know what needs to be known or that we’ve discovered what we need to discover? Or, when we are too busy or distracted to even look for secrets?
Secrets are powerful. The search for them is even more powerful. When we believe there is something else to discover, something unknown around the corner, or something real but yet to be seen, we trigger our imagination. A belief in secrets opens the world of wonder again and brings magic back into our life. Why? If there is something we don’t know, something we haven’t tried, or an answer we haven’t identified, there is still hope. With hope, anything is possible.
You see, hope springs from a belief in secrets. Childlike wonder returns when we believe in something more to discover. The quest for secrets takes us from the impossible to the possible as it fosters the question: what might be? When we’ve got it all figured out, there is no sense in trying anything new or seeking another way. Introduce the notion of a secret and everything changes. Suddenly, there just might be a way.
Secrets lay everywhere around us. Many basic ones can be found with a Google search. As our collective knowledge gets curated and indexed for instant access at our fingertips, we feel empowered to have easy answers to many of life’s basic questions. The danger here lies in believing all secrets have been found. Google may take the secret out of many of life’s mysteries but don’t be fooled. Your imagination surpasses those easy answers. Wonder lays beyond the databases. Possibility hides past the edges of the known.
Where are the secrets in our jobs? In our relationships? In our adventures? If hope springs from believing in secrets, how do I reignite my own sense of wonder? How do I foster my own belief in them?
One discovery I’ve made is that there are many secrets hiding in plain sight. Walk into a bookstore or library and look around. How is it possible that there are so many books? So much information. So many thoughts. Pick up one book on a subject you know little about. Better yet, pick up a book on a subject you think you know. Begin reading that book. Chances are, you will discover something new – even on a subject with which you are knowledgeable. Even badly written books introduce new ideas. The more you peel a subject back, the less confident you are in what you thought you knew. As that confidence diminishes, your belief in secrets grows.
Our problem is not that there aren’t enough secrets. Our problem is that we’ve lost our wonder at them and stopped looking for them. When we believe in the unknown – when we move forward thinking that there may be an answer, a path, an equation, or a resolution – we introduce hope into our being. You can’t help but feel hope when you realize there may be another way. You can’t help but hope when you discover that life may be hiding the answer you need.
Today, walk into your day with a fresh set of eyes. Look around you and tap into the wonder of the unknown and normally unseen. Then, start asking “why?” and “how?” Turn those fresh eyes toward the day’s challenges. How else might you look at your problems? Are there answers you’ve not considered? Is it possible that the resolution to your issues is right in front of you – hiding in plain sight? Seek the wonder of secrets and let hope return. Even the possibilities we don’t want are options and pursuing hope almost always opens new doors. Let the bright-eyed wonder of fresh fascination with the world fall upon you. Perhaps there are more secrets than you realize.