With the secret comes the end…

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Not for Thee.”

“Once you know it, you can unlock everything. It’s the greatest advice you could ever be given. No, I’m not telling you.”

Grandpa had it all: white hair, a wise old wrinkled face, a deep methodical voice. And of course when I was young I didn’t worry about ageing gendered stereotypes. Neither did he. In fact, he used it to his advantage. He had a Zen-like calmness and whenever things went wrong he would find a way to turn them around. I once told him about a boy who had been annoying me at school and he said, “Ah, what a kind boy he is. He knows that in order to succeed in life and be a good person you need patience. He’s helping you train for life!”

He was also a great story teller. He had been a history teacher in his day and so he liked to make up Fairy tales and set them in historic periods. He told me about the witches who fought in the trenches during World War I; the giant who used to play with the Spanish Armada like toy boats; the Goblins that invented electricity. It was weird and wonderful stuff. But his finest creation had to be, The Secret.

As I started to get a little older and meet life’s frustrations a little more regularly he would drop hints and suggestions that he knew something no one else knew. He worked it carefully. Why did he smile when it was raining? Ah, well that was his secret. How did he know how to cook such tasty dinners? Ah, well that was part of his secret.

“All the good things in life,” he told me, “come from the secret.”

Eventually – and inevitably – I cracked and demanded to know what it was. This was when he began telling me new stories, more complicated ones that ran right back through time. I could only imagine that the secret had been passed through the generations. Perhaps only the great people of each age had known about it? Each story, in what turned out to be a huge series, alluded to fantastical things, to discoveries and kaleidoscopic ideas, to adventures into the unknown. Each was tantalising and skirted around the secret, in one breath taking us closer, in another further away. For months the stories continued, blowing hot and cold. Somewhere in there was this wonderful secret, I could almost grasp it at times, but it remained out of reach.

Then school and other pressures – like playing out with friends and stuff – started taking over. I saw Grandpa less. But still, when I did see him he’d talk about the secret. If I had been impatient at first, by the time I was older I listened to the stories in a calm way – almost letting them wash over me. I wasn’t anxious any-more to hear exactly what ‘it’ was. In fact, as I noticed Grandpa tiring and getting older, as he lost the last bits of that wonderful white hair, I realised I didn’t want to know the secret. The secret meant the end.

Looking at his grave-stone reminds me so vividly of all this. And as my son and daughter pull at my legs, playing and taunting one another, I feel a new beginning starting to emerge. It must be about time I started dropping my own hints about the secret. And I smile as I read, again, the epitaph on the cold stone:

“Once you know it, you can unlock everything. It’s the greatest advice you could ever be given. No, I’m not telling you.”

Related Post(s):

The Meaning of Everything

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Dina says:

    Hmmm, maybe finding the “secret” is the purpose of our existence!

  2. kutukamus says:

    I like Grandpa already

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