One of the finer things we have in life are secrets. A secret gives us power in many ways, something that has been written about by various authors. In my youth, I worked semi-professionally as an illusionist and performed hundreds of times in front of small and large audiences around Sweden, which also meant I had to keep secrets to be able to do this over and over again.
The most common question you get as a magician is “how do you do it?!” (the second most common is “Can you conjure a beer for me?” — or a request for any other alcoholic beverage) and if you can show the trick a second — or third — time, so the audience can have a chance to figure out how it’s done. Some illusions, whether they’re done with sleight of hand or a mechanical method, are designed so you can perform them multiple times, but often with a different ending to catch the audience off guard. However, an illusionist can never, under any circumstances, tell the audience, even if it’s one person (some of them offering money to learn the secret) or even a crying child, how it’s done. What will happen if the magician reveals the secret? It will lose its power. Not only the trick itself, but the magician will go from being a person filled with knowledge and charisma to someone who cheaply deceives people for money. The secret is the essence. The secret is the true magic in magic.
A friend and colleague in the entertainment industry once told me how a relationship stays afloat. It’s such a truthful and simple concept that I’ve carried it with me for several years and always turn to when I need affirmation on how to stay true in my own relationships. Dare I say it’s magic? Hear me out. Imagine that the relationship is a completely smooth, silver globe. When you hold it in your hands, it’s perfect in its dimensions and structure. Well, it’s perfect in every way possible except for one single long and slim needle-like rod that protrudes from it, becoming thinner and ending in a sharp, almost invisible vertex. It’s so sharp that it’s unreachable. That’s the secret(s) your partner carries with him or her. That thing, dark spot, or razor edge, you can’t define. Something you can’t touch. And the goal of your relationship is to reach that place. But you won’t succeed. It will never happen, but you will continue no matter what. And that’s fine. This unknown part of the person you love and respect might be abstract and hard to define, but it’s there, and you truly want to know what it is. That mission will keep you going for the rest of your life, and it will also keep your love, obsession, or friendship alive. You need a secret too, even if you will never be able to define it yourself. Your partner needs one. And if you both have this and want to reach for it throughout eternity, you will have a long and healthy relationship.
I’m a married person, and my partner is in many ways a complete mystery to me — even if I feel I know them like no other living being in the universe. I’m curious as hell some days, but the knowledge that I don’t know everything about them also makes me very satisfied. It makes me want to sit and watch them for hours, it makes me want to hear them talk — because maybe one day something will slip out and give me a clue to who they really are deep inside. That’s what keeps me moving forward in this incredible life together with them. It’s the same thing with friends, relatives, or maybe the connection you have with something else that deeply interests you. If you’ve explored every hobby in the world, look for more. If you think that book is the last one in your collection, don’t worry — it’s not. You will never be able to read every book ever written, and you will discover a new piece of music every day if you focus on it. Imagine how many secrets are out there if you really, truly love something. If you still feel that repeatedly, you’re on the right path. Knowing how to value a secret, hold a secret, and respect a secret is important. But don’t let that stop you from trying to find things out because that’s the beauty of a good secret: it wants you to know about it, but it will never let you.
Fred Andersson is a Swedish story producer, researcher and writer with over twenty years of experience in commercial television and the author of four books. He lives in Märsta, outside Stockholm, with his photographer husband Grzegorz and two overly active cats. Join him on Twitter and Instagram.