Hold on to your hats. This is a big one: I didn’t watch the Oprah interview with Lance Armstrong. Nope. Not a second of it. To be honest, I don’t remember what I was doing at the time.
So, what’s the deal, Jesse? Don’t you care about Lance Armstrong and what he did? Yes, I suppose I do. But I still had no interest in watching it.
I understand how much of an impact the scandal of his usage of performance enhancing drugs is to the cycling world. I understand how much those who finished second behind him—who rightfully should have won—feel slighted. I also understand the certain amount of relief that comes with unloading the truth.
How is it that I have such an understanding? Well, I guess I could say I’ve lived it to some extent. You see, a while back, I found myself in a situation where I had constructed a pretty complex web of deceit designed to create the illusion that our family finances were fine; in reality a few difficult years in sales had really taken their toll. But, even though I may not be the most masculine person in the world, I have more than my fair share of insane male pride. And I followed that male pride into the depths of what many have dubbed “financial infidelity,” a situation where one spouse hides certain financial misdeeds from the other.
What followed the rather spectacular eruption of the truth was a long period of reconciliation, some therapy, and the first steps towards rebuilding trust. It’s been a long road, but we keep heading towards better days, and for that I am grateful both to my wife, and ultimately to God.
So yeah, I guess I had no desire to sit around and relive those painful moments of the “disclosure of sin.” It can be hard to watch, hard to listen to, and believe you me, it’s extraordinarily painful to be on the talking end.
When this whole situation blows over, and we all return to our lives—perhaps we already have—I’d like to think there’s hope for our buddy Lance. His life’s not over. He has many years left to rebuild himself, rebuild his image, rebuild his reputation, and rebuild his legacy.
During the weeks after everything I had done was revealed, as a part of my self-imposed therapy, I decided to write something about it. When I first sat down at the computer, I had no idea what form it would take. Would it be a story, an essay, a blog post? I had no idea.
Initially the words and ideas wouldn’t come, and I was afraid the wound was a bit to raw to revisit my dismaying lapses in judgment. The next day, however, I was driving to visit some customers a few hours away, and I had an epiphany. I’m not going to tell you what it was, because it would ruin the story quite a bit. Suffice it to say, when I took a break for lunch, I whipped out my laptop and began writing. By the time I had stuffed a Panera sandwich in my mouth and washed it down with some iced tea, I had written almost 3,000 words. The entire three-hour drive home, I recited dialogue to myself, trying to make it sound realistic. Within a week, the story had grown to 15,000 words, which, incidentally, made it one of the longest pieces I had ever written (besides my dissertation, and no one is ever going read that thing).
I loved the story. The crises in the plot line bordered on insane, but there was an air of truth to it.
Then the story sat for four months. I just wasn’t sure what to do with it.
A few months letter, I let a few people read it, and they loved it.
Then I let it sit for an even longer time.
In December of 2012, I decided to pick it up again, dust it off, and really get it ready for publication. Thanks to a few wonderful friends and their honest opinions, I added another 7,000 words to it, tightened up the story, and ramped up the emotional impact.
And thus was born—well, more like conjured in a literary sense—Zephyr Hopkins. Am I Zephyr? No, that dude is a hot mess of epic proportions. We’re talking Greek Tragedy here. Was my situation similar? Not at all. I am thrilled that my situation was nowhere near as desperate as his.
All that being said, my heart breaks for Zephyr every time I think about him, because no matter how far I remove myself from his brand of trouble…
…Zephyr still lurks in the shadows of my heart.
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