Monday, May 07, 2007

The giant 26 letter skeleton in the closet

From this article comes a story of illiteracy turned happiness:

Jacques Demers coached the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup in 1993 and later became a general manager in the National Hockey League. During the entire time he was unable to read or write, according to his 2005 biography "En Toutes Lettres."

Demers' father was an abusive alcoholic who beat his son for poor grades, so he left school at 16 functionally illiterate. If someone asked Demers to read something, he would say his English was poor; if the document was in French, he would say he'd been in the U.S. for too long. If all else failed, he would say he forgot his glasses.

Demers talked his way into a license, a job, a green card, and an executive position in his nation's most popular sport. He surrounded himself with a team that compensated for his weaknesses. When he became a general manager, for instance, he hired two associates to handle contracts and give him verbal summaries.

Finally, in his 50s, Demers came clean; he worked through his childhood issues with a psychologist and overcame his illiteracy. "I wanted my head to be free," Demers told one sports columnist. "Now I'm free. I'm happy."

Can you imagine keeping anything a secret for that long...must less something so big that you would be required to lie about it pretty much every day of your life? My god that has to be exhausting.

People everywhere do this with things small and large. It's done in the name of happiness (to keep other people happy), but at the expense of our own happiness. This isn't to say that we should be 100% selfish in life, but in the end, you aren't really doing anyone any favors by being dishonest or disingenuous.

I know I've touched on this before but some things are worth repeating. The truth is painful in the short term, but think of the alternative...

1 comment:

Gaylord Almighty said...

As for secrets: I would think that keeping one's homosexuality under wraps for years would be right up there with the most costricting and damaging to the individual's psyche. (And I'll guess that our country is likely much more tolerant of homosexuality than most...)