The first thing I connected with him was a yellow plastic band that people wore as a bracelet…. And the words Livestrong written on them. I didn’t know they were for cancer support, I didn’t know he was a hero and what Tour de France meant. Then in 2009 I fell in love with mountain biking and discovered Lance Armstrong. I read his books and marvelled at his records and was inspired that he came back from cancer to accomplish feats on the cycle that even guys with no ailments couldn’t do. Then I read some more about the doping scandals and felt cheated… I still didn’t doubt Lance Armstrong and I don’t know if I will doubt even after he has been stripped of his medals, banned for life and he has stepped down from the Livestrong foundation. Not because I know him, or because I trust him, it’s actually because I doubt the intentions of the media, many other vested interests and in general, I doubt the veracity of all news :(:(
All idols have feet of clay – you see the feet when you get closer, so when you are a distance away, the hero looks big and all achievements look great. Then you pick the podium and put your idol on it and while you adjust his location in your heart you realise that his feet are caked in clay !! You feel cheated, but don’t be. Such is human nature – what comes over a brilliant lawyer when he makes a pass at a woman at the height of his career ? Or what comes over a perfectly fit actor who spends years building his body to succumb to drugs, or what comes over an iconic business superstar to choose an idiot as his successor ? Hubris? Or just a part of their brain shuts down temporarily to allow stupid behaviour?
I have stopped expecting true greatness – accept the flashes of greatness and worship any idol, but know that except for maybe a handful, most of them will be standing in slush ! Not a pessimistic view – its just knowing that all human beings are flawed, and that’s the beauty. Love doesn’t see the scars or the craters in the character, but when the infatuation fades then you notice it all. Go for 75% greatness – it works, and don’t be depressed that yet another hero has fallen. All heroes are ultimately human and will stumble occasionally !