Outfit # 75: Vices/Virtues
The podcast Death, Sex and Money has an episode titled “The NFL Made Me Rich. Now I Watch It… Sometimes.” In it, host Anna Sales talks to Domonique Foxworth, former NFL player, Harvard Grad, rich dude.
The interview is great. Foxworth is honest without hesitation and explicit about the one thing he really wanted: money. Sales and Foxworth talk about football, its danger, losing friends, his experience in high school and college. The girls he met and what kind of man he had to become to convince his wife to marry him.
But the idea that stuck with me was his complete candidness about wanting money. A want I always thought of as a sin or vice. But Foxworth wasn’t evil. He was honest. He knew what he wanted and took an incredible path to get it. One that wasn’t evil at all, but hard work.
This got me thinking.
I felt as though we’re supposed to bury any negative aspect of our personalities. Ignore those inclinations, hope they evaporate. So to hear someone admit to something that I grew up thinking was a sin, even now, was wild.
I never wanted to admit to myself what I wanted because it was, according to what I learned in church, and what I learned from some of the people I most respected, a vice. I’ve always wanted to be known. Not to have my name up in lights, but just for people to know me. To have a legacy. In many ways, because I know what I want that legacy to be, it motivates me in positive ways. No matter what role I’m in, as follower or leader, I genuinely want to do a good job. Unfortunately, wanting something akin to social power means the ego is pumped and popped almost on a daily basis. It also means I hardly live up to the version of myself that I imagine being.
I’ll act on ego instead of acknowledging my lack of understanding. I have to be uber conscientious of jealousy, envy and bitterness. But this was harder to monitor when I kept my vice buried, hiding it from myself. Lying to myself. It was alive though. Six feet under, breathing through a snorkel waiting for me to pull it up. I could hear its heart beats under my floorboards.
Instead of treating it as a vampire looking to leave me as an empty shell, I’m trying to see it as an opportunity. We’re in those awkward stages right now though. Where I have to apologize for stuffing it under the floor and I have to accept that there is a major part of me that isn’t a good person. (This is the hardest part. I do want to be a good person. But while I’m pulling up vices, I might as well reach a hand out to selfishness, pride and whatever else is lurking under there.)
With vices all the worst thoughts come first. The arrogance and ego. Rationality and kindness come in as processing machines that package the vice as a new, less horrible idea or action.
I have to rely on those processes in order to be a decent person. But sometimes they don’t process fast enough and I say or doing something this is ultimately foolish. But once my vice and I come to terms with being roommates we’ll come to agreements that will make us both happy. One that doesn’t require me sacrificing dignity and one that allows my vice a reasonable and appropriately acquired confidence. And maybe even in the process, after long hours of diligent practice and a couple years of investment, it could graduate into becoming a virtue.
But the first step is accepting it.