I read “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life“, described by Google as “Journey through triumph, tragedy, transformation, and transcendence. It is the story of a world-famous cyclist and his fight against cancer“, a few years ago.
Lance’s amazing triumphs and battles won, revealed in that book, touched my soul and inspired me. He had done what no other human had done (no person will ever replicate his journey) in a remarkable fashion (perhaps messy at times).
He became my hero (I was not that into Superman or Batman, but did enjoy Indiana Jones).
I am not a “fan” of my hero. Cycling, other than along the beachfront thrice a year, does not interest me at all. I much prefer “bicycles with large engines”.
Recently, he did what many other people would never ever do – he appeared as a well known personality on worldwide television to own up to a lie.
Most of us, even though mostly unknown and of little reputation to guard, would not have the courage to appear on a show in a small one-horse town and, even if we did, overcome the stage-fright to be able to talk about the day we didn’t pay a dollar for parking.
Whether Lance made a 5% admission or told the full truth does not concern me. I admire his courage. I would rather look at the good he has done.
There are some things I don’t like about my hero. I keep these things private and ponder if these are actually things I don’t like about myself or need to work on. The fact that I don’t publicly state them is a good indication of who needs to improve – and no, it’s not Lance.
At times in my life I have been a master critic and fallen foul of Dale Carnegie who said:
“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving”.
At times I have been understanding and forgiving. No prizes if you can guess which option, without a shadow of doubt, made me and others feel much better.
Lance seems to have really upset a few people.
I am a little confused by all of this, but I am not in their shoes. Also, they are not in Lance’s shoes.
The extraordinary energy being expended and relentlessness being shown in vicious attacks, wave after wave, against him is something to behold. Imagine if this energy and the costs being incurred by all were put into feeding and housing the needy.
Read some of the criticism if you haven’t. Some believe they deserve apologies. Others such as Amy say:
“Armstrong was a cheater, a thief, the kind of guy who could look any number of cancer survivors or even Oprah in the eyes and not care if he was lying. Lance is no Santa Claus, even if his fans kept up the suspension of disbelief much longer than the average child. He was no embodiment of an athletic miracle, and he never really delivered“.
Amy, in a separate article, calls his recent confession flawed and labels him a disgrace.
OK, let’s for a few minutes accept that Amy is 110% correct and Lance would do very well to make quick amends and heal lots of wounds.
Let us also believe some critics who say that he hasn’t told the full truth and his recent Oprah interview was somewhat motivated by a need to repair his own reputation and secure his future.
He is not perfect, neither am I and nor are you the reader, the critic, the mother, the teacher, the lover, the son.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr. said:
“Let the refining and improving of your own life keep you so busy that you have little time to criticize others”.
If Brown’s words are true, and I believe them to be, then all the critics of Lance are perfect and have no hidden ghosts in their closets. I somehow doubt this.
Psalm 18 New International Version 1984 says:
“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless”.
This reminded me of other spiritual paths which suggest that all of us humans are not perfect and our word is flawed. You don’t need to be a believer of any path to know this simple truth.
If it hasn’t yet been done and you must; punish Lance quickly in an appropriate manner and then let us all move on.
Look at your own life; at home and at work. Are you being 100% honest with family and co-workers? If you say “yes”, would you be prepared to lay your life bare and be fully investigated? I don’t think so.
Are you even being honest with yourself? Are you perhaps living a lie?
I also thought about the following:
- If I take drugs in sport am I guaranteed to win the competition.
- To what extent do family genes, hard training, eating correctly, determination, mental prowess, karma (the list carries on) play a part, if any.
- Do all top-level sportsmen take one thing or another to gain an edge.
- What if all the athletes in a certain competition are all taking drugs to win; is the winner then still the winner?“.
- If Lance’s contribution to cancer was as great and extensive as some proclaim, and this contribution was a direct by-product of him winning all those races, by whatever means, then what.
To end off with Chris Webby, who has some rough words although the following is suitable for all readers:
“You could never be the man that I be.
Never go to war with a dude like me.
You’d be barking up the wrong tree.
Trust me. You could never do that things that I do.
You could never spit the words that I spew.
You could never stand to walk in my shoes. Trust me“.
So try getting diagnosed with cancer, win the battle against cancer, train hard, win some top races in a number of different disciplines, help setup a compassionate foundation or two, appear in a movie or three, have books written about you, own a business, appear on television to own up and (the list carries on).
If you achieve all of this and in a prettier fashion then you are certainly qualified to fully question Lance (or rather advise him).
6 thoughts on “My Hero”
Well said Andy! Although not a cycling fan, I too admire his courage. Cheers, Linda
Cheating is not to be condoned. If you have dealt with people who lie (doctors, lawyers, moms, kids, seasoned criminals) then you would have seen that the truth when it comes, does so quiet slowly sometimes. Show me someone who hasn’t twisted the truth then “attacked” or become affronted when their version is tested
Well said Andy and I agree 1000% percent! Look at the log in your own eyes before critiquing the speck in a others!
I also read Lance Armstrong’s book ‘It’s not about the bike’, which is one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read, and I was also privileged to see him cycling in the ‘Tour Down Under’ in Australia. Now, I must admit, I’m not sure what to think. I’ve deliberately avoided the news and the comments because I think it’s incredibly sad. But, like you, I would prefer to remember the good he has done. He inspired thousands of people to get on their bikes and start cycling (whether it was for competition or recreation); and he has helped countless people in their life-threatening fights against cancer. This good work will never been undone, not matter how he is judged by others. Thanks for your blog!
Thank you for reading my ramblings – had to get it off my chest. I did have some more thoughts here (at bottom of post): https://snapflycook.wordpress.com/2013/01/22/god-is-greatest-2/