Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Holding Secrets Is Worse Than Owing Money

About once a month something jumps up out of my own life and inspires an aphorism or adage. The October aphorism grew out of pondering why I hadn't heard from certain people for a year or more.

I thought about what makes people distance themselves from a friend or relative. Embarrassment for the other person can do it (you know--when your friend or relative gets two DUIs in a row). So can owing money. And guilt over something the other party doesn't know. Or taking offense at something, intentional or unintentional, the shunned party had done or said.

None of these applied to the people I was thinking about. But it came to me that the three of them did have something in common: I knew certain things about them that no one of their current acquaintance knows. These were things from decades past, and I've never said anything about them to anyone.

Still, I think holding someone's secrets can cause them to edge away from you. Do they have feelings of guilt? Are they embarrassed or angry because you know? Could be any of that, or something else. And so the aphorism sprang suddenly to mind:

Holding someone's secret is worse than owing them money; you can pay back the money.


Khozyain said...

Excellent aphorism.

And because you know the secret, you are blamed for the knowing of it -- guilty, and sometimes thrown to the wolves for what you know.

Michael A. Banks said...

Thanks! Yeah, people can get worked up when they're scared or guilty.