I find I have been quick to judge our American swimmer Ryan Lochte for his behavior away from the pool in Rio de Janeiro during the Olympic games, and I had a few minutes to sit in my favorite chair this morning to ponder his trials and tribulations while I was waiting for T’s physical therapist to arrive. I love to ponder – particularly when the house is quiet, and today was no exception.
I read moments ago that Speedo and Ralph Lauren severed their endorsement relationships with Mr. Lochte which led me down the meandering pondering quite smug path of See there, I told you so. When you play, you pay…an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Why didn’t you stick to pool parties…I went on and on with this conversation in my mind because it’s a replay of how I’ve felt since the bizarre incident occurred in Rio. Really, Ryan, how stupid could you be. You’re thirty-two years old, for crying out loud. You’re old enough to know better.
Whoa, Nellie…hold your horses. Old enough to know better – that stopped me in my instant replay. Hm. Now what was I doing when I was thirty-two years old…that would have been 1978. Hm….meander, meander some more… I was living in Columbia by then and had met the person that would become my lifelong friend but was at the time my best drinking buddy Millie Miller who was happy to spend many evenings with me at local bars until they closed in the wee hours of the morning. We weren’t always in the best shape when they closed, either. Really, then, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t cast stones, although admittedly my glass house wasn’t part of an international Olympic Games and I wasn’t representing my country at the time. Not to split hairs, of course. The two similarities of this story were thirty-two years old and intoxicated, as I rambled along in my mind. Don’t try to make more of it than that.
So it wasn’t the drunken public exhibition by a member of Team USA in a foreign country that continued to nag at me in the Lochte saga although that would have been enough to keep the story churning. I could finagle that around in my mind to somehow relate to his wanting to celebrate with his teammates after the medals were handed out. Something to be ashamed of when he sobered up, but mistakes are surely made by us all – usually not in front of a gazillion people but hey, nobody’s perfect.
No, that wasn’t the nagging current flowing through my stream of consciousness this morning. It was the lying – an amazingly creative lie to be sure – but a lie nonetheless… followed by his inability to say Hey, I lied about it, and I’m sorry. Instead, the lie became his “over-exaggeration” of the truth which sounds strangely similar to the acceptable “little white lie.” Ding, ding, ding goes the alarm bell. Don’t tell that to the Brazilians.
Somewhere in my mind there is a disconnect between what used to be known as the truth and what now has become an inability on a grand scale to define. Lying is a way of life in our family relationships, business dealings, political discourse, religious institutions, collegiate locker rooms, football weights, beauty pageants and just about anything else you can think of. You name it – we can lie about it with gusto and embellishment.
I am beyond weary of lies and liars.
But this is clearly not a new problem of the 21st. century. The major religions of today have all weighed in against lying thousands of years ago via stone tablets and whatever else they could find to write on plus probably on cave walls before that. The universal consensus was that lying is fundamentally wrong but truth is subject to interpretation. My truth might not be your truth, and vice versa. Clearly Ryan Lochte subscribed to that theory when he invented his own elaborate version of the truth and then tried to redefine it.
I should never have gotten started on this mind meandering today. I feel like I’m digging myself deeper and deeper into a meaningless hole and I hear the voices of my Texas heroines Molly Ivins and Ann Richards hollering from their graves to admonish me that when I find myself in a hole this big, I need to stop digging.
And so I shall. Team USA won forty-seven gold medals at the 2016 Olympics in Rio;T and I heard the Star-Spangled Banner played for many of those medal ceremonies from her hospital room following her successful knee replacement surgery last week and from our bedroom where she continues to recover this week. Each time we heard it was special with the expressions of the champions ranging from smiles of happiness to tears of joy to thoughtful reflections of awe and wonder…they were moments of truth we shared with them. At least, that’s how my mind meanderings like to think about it. Somebody stop me.