People constantly lie. A few tell bigger lies than most, which brings me to Lance Armstrong. His story reads like a thrilling novel.
Boy meets cycling. Boy meets testicular cancer. Boy beats testicular cancer. Boy beats cycling by taking performance-enhancing drugs. Boy denies taking drugs. Boy eventually admits to Oprah that he took drugs.
As much flack as he has been getting, I admire Armstrong more today than I ever have. His ability to lie is amazing.
For the moment, let’s ignore Armstrong breaking the rules, the lawsuits he filed, the reputations he tried to destroy and his abrasive personality.
At the heart of this is a man who saw obstacles in his way to eternal greatness and began mowing them down with great fervor.
I never used to think about Armstrong in these terms when he was in the process of winning seven straight Tour de France titles after battling cancer.
It was cool, but it wasn’t impacting my life as a preteen and teenager. As an adult, I can appreciate Armstrong for the amount of gumption it took for him to live a very public lie since the 90s.
I realize I look at the world a bit differently from some of you. Where you see weakness, I see strength. You call Armstrong an arrogant, ruthless liar. I say he committed to being that person.
Armstrong is a public figure. There were media members and investigators always trying to get to the truth. It took a while, but most people eventually realized he wasn’t clean.
Armstrong had to know it was going to end up like this. When the whole world is against you, it can be easy to give in to the pressure, which in Armstrong’s case would be to tell the truth.
Yet he marched on, trampling any friend or foe who attempted to get in his way.
I don’t fault him for falling off his path of unjustified righteousness. We all stray from time to time.
It’s not just Armstrong who gets the lying job done. There are many examples of public figures lying in the face of adversity with all of their might.
Barry Bonds. Amazing. Bill Clinton. Amazing. Manti Te’o. Allegedly amazing.
Morally, Armstrong and company didn’t use their commitment in a positive manner, but the positive qualities we like about individuals are underneath all the deceit. Shouldn’t that count for something?
In many ways, men like this are the polar opposite of me, but particularly with their steadfastness.
I’m kind of an indecisive guy about a lot of things. I’ve been staring at the same TV at Best Buy for months because I can’t make the final decision to buy it.
In last Sunday’s Flint Hills section, there’s an article I wrote, “What was your first job?” I talked to a few people including Pat Keating of Keating and Associates. After finishing the interview with Keating, he left me a little something to consider.
“In three years, what would it take for you to come back to me and say ‘I’m extremely happy in life’?” Keating asked me. I walked back out to my car and started to contemplate a bit. I had no clue what the answer would be.
Becoming a journalist was a goal, but I’m typically not a goal-setter. I have built-in excuses. New Year’s Resolutions are lame. I don’t need goals. I go with the flow of life.
But it would be good to have something to pursue as passionately as Armstrong chased victory and lying.
You can keep judging Armstrong, but in a sense I’m trying to be more like him.
I’m not saying you should take performance enhancers like Armstrong. I’m not saying you should have an affair and lie about it like Clinton. I’m not saying you should allegedly lie about having a girlfriend who died like Te’o.
I just know that the world would be a better place if everybody had Lance Edward Armstrong’s determination to succeed and utilized in a positive manner.