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June 21 • Of Lies and Legacies

Day 713 I've been thinking a lot recently about legacies. My first thought, and the one that takes me down dead-end paths of shame, is that I've blown any chance for the kind of legacy I worked my whole life to attain. I'd love to be remembered for doing something great or even something significant but quiet. Leaving behind a trail of sex addiction debris, and even the paper trail of recovery doesn't seem to be high on the list of things for which one wants to be remembered. Back in my DJ days, I would play Jim Croce's "I Got a Name" as often as possible. Besides being a great song, the message spoke to my image generator: "Like the singin' bird and the croakin' toad
I've got a name, I've got a name
And I carry it with me like my daddy did
But I'm living the dream that he kept hid" Building on my father's legacy seemed like the best thing to which I could aspire for the cause of humankind. I understand the cultural values in encouraging young people to be better than their parents or to work hard so our children will have it better than we did. I understand why we encourage our twilight generation to "finish well" and why we acknowledge those who fought the good fight when their days are done. I don't want to bash any of that, but I am realizing the role those simple phrases have had on me in terms of hiding my faults and running from myself as my sexual addiction stalked me for years. "Remember who you are, and who's you are," is one of my mother's favorite sayings, and I've always loved it and thought it was a wise injunction. But I also remember thinking that if she knew what I was doing and what I was thinking (i.e., who I was), that I would be rejected by her and by God and by every reasonable person I knew. I now know that that was my addict talking, seducing me toward acceptance of self-destruction in isolation. I'm not smart enough nor well enough to advise on the proper way to encourage young people to be the best they can be. I share that value, and I want my children and my grandchildren to all excel in life. But I am now far less concerned with their achievement, and far more concerned with their ability to be honest with themselves, vulnerable with those they love, and able to face their challenges with integrity and courage. As for my legacy, I don't know that anything has changed. The truth is, most of us have no control over what people think of us when we are gone. And when we're gone, we really won't give a flying flip about that. Living life seems more worth it if I believe I will be appreciated for having been here. While there is truth in that, it is also true that too many of us spend too much of our life trying to craft that lingering persona, which very few people will ever care about, and we do it at the expense of the people we care most about. Our legacy will be what it will be. Some of us will do something unexpectedly great at just the right time and will be remembered for that. Others will work our whole lives to make our parents proud, then will do something stupid at the end that will undo a lifetime of sacrificing ourselves for the idol of ourselves. That's a lot of energy going into a result for which the cost-to-benefit ratio is not very good. Can I really do better than to live a life every day knowing I have done my best to resist the shadows and to promote the light of honesty and integrity? I don't know that any of this has any bearing on people with no compulsions or addictions, but I think it is a topic that is worthy of consideration in my program. –JR

June 21 • Of Lies and Legacies
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