Erich is an amazing guy. When I met him, he was academic dean of the tribal college on his reservation. He eventually became college president, the first member of his tribe to earn a doctorate, co-founded Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc. with me and April St. Pierre, co-authored articles in scientific journals and a bunch of equally super-impressive things.
Before I met him, he was an alcoholic, broke his back in an accident, was in rehabilitation - both the physical kind and the drug and alcohol kind. It's hard for me to reconcile the person I have always known with the stories I hear about him.
Erich says that it's quite simple, really. You either live a life of the truth or a life of a lie. If you are an alcoholic, you are living the life of a lie. You are telling your boss lies for the reason you didn't make it to work or made a mistake - the truth is you weren't sick or distracted, you were drunk. You are lying to your spouse or parents about why you came home late or didn't show up for some family gathering. You are lying to yourself that everyone gets a DUI now and then, it's normal to get fired from your first job.
You don't have to be an alcoholic to live the life of a lie.
One day, my husband was looking at some site for people who want to have affairs. He wasn't looking for an affair. He was actually sitting in bed next to me reading it out loud on his laptop. On the home page, it said,
If it bothers you to constantly lie, you should not have an affair.
We both fell over laughing, thinking, who the heck at that point says,
Okay, I'm cool with the constant lying thing, what else you got?
Those sites seem to get a lot of traffic, though, and I'll bet it's not all from people like us who are reading just to laugh at them.
I'm not perfect. (God, am I not perfect!) However, I try as much as possible to live a life of the truth. I love my children, grandchildren and husband. I try to the best of my ability to make games that make people smarter - in math, social studies and English. I do studies to test whether what I'm doing works. I hire people in the U.S. , preferably California, because I want to support the community where I live. I teach judo to kids at Gompers Middle School because I genuinely believe they are some great kids and I am blessed to have terrific instructors like José, Will, Blinky, Jimmy and Steve to help me out.
What you see is what you get.
I have another friend, a software developer named Joe Perry, who told me once,
People like to say, "It's complicated", but it's really not. Do you respect the people you work with? Are you proud of the work that you do?
Just this week, I had a conversation with someone who told me something that was somewhat important to me. I asked him if he was sure what he said was true. He said,
I swear on all the saints and the Blessed Virgin, on the grey head of my sainted mother, may she drop over dead. It happened exactly as I told you.
Funny thing, I happened to find out a couple of days later that he had lied to me. Hope his mom is still fine. Obviously, I'll never trust anything he tells me ever again.
Joe is right. People like to throw up a lot of smoke screens, but it comes down to this: Is what you are saying true? Is the impression you are giving people true?
If not, you are living the life of a lie, and that never ends well.
Since I'm in a pattern of quoting smart people I know, let me end with some advice from Dr. Jane Mercer, a famous and very kind sociologist who was on my dissertation committee. (No, my doctorate isn't in sociology but that's irrelevant.)
On the wall of her office she had taped this Turkish proverb:
No matter how far you have gone down the wrong road, turn back.