Whilst dining together at a Lebanese restaurant in Andalucia to celebrate her wedding for the third time, my lovely friend Alison turned to me and asked me if I knew of the secret.
Ummmm, no, I said.
"I mean, 'The Secret' - a movie, now a book too - it's a publishing phenomenon."
I didn't know anything about it, living as I do in a claustrophobic fog of adventure stories, school governance and salsa dancing.
Well, I've been missing out, by the sounds of things.
The Secret, described as a self-help film, uses a documentary format to present the "Law of Attraction." This law is the "secret" that, according to the tagline, "has traveled through centuries to reach you." The film features short dramatized experiences and interviews of a "dizzying dream team of personal transformation specialists, spiritual messengers, feng shui masters, and moneymaking experts". As put forth in the film, the "Law of Attraction" principle posits that people's feelings and thoughts attract real events in the world into their lives; from the workings of the cosmos to interactions among individuals in their physical, emotional, and professional affairs. The film also suggests that there has been a strong tendency by those in positions of power to keep this central principle hidden from the public. The previews or "clues" to the film, show men who "uncovered the Secret...".
Oh.My.Giddy.Aunt. It's prayer for the secular! That is too, too wonderful.
There's so much I could say about this...but I won't be tempted. I'll just relate the rest of mine and Alison's conversation. (We were enjoying the best part of a bottle of vino tinto at the time.)
"So I don't need to work hard on making my novels exciting...and the publishers don't need to work hard marketing them...all we need to do is to visualize the book being a big success...?"
Alison nodded. "Visualize your success. Don't let any negative thoughts interfere at all! Don't have anything to do with people who cause you to experience negative thoughts or feelings!"
"Visualize my success...?" I repeated. It surely can't be that simple. But according to Alison, that's just what The Secret is all about. If you visualize it enough and with enough of the right vibes (and none of the wrong vibe), the universe will align itself with your wishes. Don't ask how, but I'm sure there's an underlying pseudo-scientific explanation designed to bamboozle.
"Visualize it...massively," Alison said. "Look, I'm doing what I can, babe. I'm already visualizing you paying for us all to come here again next year..."
The following day, more sober, Alison pointed out the flaw in The Secret.
"Anyone who's ever experienced unrequited love knows that it's a load of hooey. I've spent most of my life fantasizing about various women, visualizing and everything...and it never worked!"
I thought about this for a second. "But did you ever consider asking any of these women...?"
Alison's face fell. "Wha...? No... You think I should have...?"
The Secret. It's one of those things that only works if you put in the hard work also. As with prayer - God helps those who help themselves.