“Truth teller” is a role that people take on, in groups and in life. It’s a very important role. I take it as a compliment when somebody calls me a “truth teller.”
Sometimes, I can get a bit obsessive about telling the truth. That is, I feel guilty if I am remiss about that, in any way.
I remember, in the 1970s, interviewing for a job as a technical/marketing writer. I had started off my career in that field, a few years before, with very low pay (because I had no experience), so I was playing salary catch-up, trying to get a fair, commensurate wage. The guy interviewing me, Al (whom I knew from a previous job), asked me what my current salary was.
And I had been told this, by several people, “Lie about your current salary. That’s the only way for you to get the correct pay for your experience and skill.” So I lied, exactly as instructed.
And the interview went well, and it looked like I would probably get the job but …. afterwards, all I could think about was the fact that I had lied. I felt terrible. I agonized back and forth between various courses of action. What to do? What to do?
My mother used to say, “Honesty is the best policy.” And that was one of my mother’s sayings that I truly believed.
So, finally, I called Al on the phone, and said, “Al, I’m sorry. That salary I told you? It’s not true.”
And I said a bit more about that, by way of explanation. Al sounded a little … something on the phone. Surprised. Like he didn’t know what to say. And he didn’t say much.
I had many thoughts after that confessional phone call, such as, “He must think I’m nuts. Maybe I won’t get the job now.”
But I felt better.
And how do you think this story turned out?
I got the job. At the salary I wanted.
So why am I telling that story, today? For one thing, I want to make sure I tell the truth, here. Specifically, I want to be clear and come clean on something I’ve claimed, several times, in blog posts last year.
For years, I’ve been told by many experts that I am the longest surviving person in the world with a cardiac pacemaker. I bragged (authentically, I thought, at the time) about that record in past posts (like here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). I often hesitate to brag, for many reasons1 … but I thought that brag was true.
I’ve written, before, about the possibility that I don’t have “the title” (in “Day 320: Show up, be gentle, tell the truth). Today, I truly believe that I don’t.
And, because it’s nice to be The Best or The First or otherwise qualify for The Guinness Book of Records, I’ll tell another truth: I’ve had moments of resistance to giving up that sort-of-sweet superlative.
But not any more. In this moment, I am authentically pleased to speak this truth:
I am one of the longest surviving people in the world with a cardiac pacemaker.
Which puts me in very good company.
Hey! Look at that! I’m not alone! Instead, I’m part of a group. And if you’ve read this blog before, you know this truth to be self-evident: I love groups.
Speaking of honesty, I need to credit somebody else, who also inspired today’s post. As is often true for me, a comedian was part of the mix. Today’s comedic co-star is Steve Martin.
(I found that image at Wikipedia.)
Before I decided on today’s post topic this morning, I encountered Mr. Martin (among many excellent musicians) in this YouTube Video:
(see here for a full list of musicians, in the comments)
Honestly, isn’t that pure joy? I genuinely adore that video.
But here’s another fact: that video was NOT the inspiration for this post. Watching that video led me to this one:
And that truly helped me write this post, today.
Thanks to Steve Martin, my old friend Gene (who also inspired this post2), the longest surviving person in the world with a pacemaker,3 Al, Johnny Carson, Earl Scruggs, truth-tellers everywhere, and to you — but of course! — for visiting today.
1 One of the reasons for NOT bragging would be this: If you brag and it’s not true, look at all the rewriting you have to do!
2 Gene inspired this post like so: On Facebook, he is currently asking for songs that have major landscape features in the title, which lead me to that “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” video.
3 See the comment section on this post and this post, too, for more about this person.4 And while it’s possible somebody else out there has lived EVEN LONGER with a pacemaker … I sincerely doubt it.
4 Why aren’t I naming names in this post? Honestly, I’m not sure how she would feel about that (and I hope to find out more about that, soon).