The Story Economy Blog

Broken Bones and Countries


I’ve started many newsletters over the past several weeks, but none felt right. What to say, where there is so much to say, and yet, such a deluge of information that it feels exhausting to contribute to it?

So I’m just going to tell you how I broke my foot.

I’ve never broken a bone before. I assumed I was a person who didn’t break bones. Keep in mind, I was a gymnast for 10 years, and I’ve been a runner for 25 years. So the “no broken bone” mythology in me was fairly strong.

But I kept rolling my left ankle while running. I rolled it in April in the middle of a seven-mile run, and hobbled home in pain. I gave it a few days to heal and was back to normal. Then I rolled it again in May—this time a little worse. But nothing some ice and a few days of rest couldn’t fix.

And then about a month ago, I was finishing up a five-mile run, heading up the hill to come back home, and I rolled the same ankle AGAIN—but this time, with such force that I fell to the ground in terrible pain. I knew I had done real damage, and by the time I limped the quarter-mile home, I was going into shock from the pain.

I toughed it out over the weekend with ice and Advil, but when I went to the doctor that Monday, I was not surprised when she told me I had broken a bone. Two of them actually—the cuboid and the calcaneus. In fact, I had cracked a tiny piece of bone right off. Which is really gross and unsettling to think about.

She gave me this boot and told me I’d be out of running for six to 12 weeks. “But no surgery!” she said cheerfully. My face fell. “Don’t worry. You’ll be back to running, it will just take time,” she said.

I’ve been keeping myself in shape by swimming laps three to four times a week, and this past weekend, we bought a fancy exercise bike for the basement.

Still, having a broken foot that hurts, wearing a cumbersome boot, and not being able to do the thing I love stinks.

But it’s nothing compared to how it feels to be living in a broken country.

We’re encumbered by a giant boot, too, and though we can finally get rid of it on January 20 at noon (count the seconds here), we’re still going to be hobbling around. We have soul-level fractures that won’t heal up simply because one tyrant is out of power.

At this point, the notion of truth has been fundamentally damaged. I’m talking compound fracture, level 1 trauma center status.

I thought in writing a book about honesty, I would come to some revelation about how someone so untruthful and self-serving could rise to power. I thought if I could trace untruth and self-serving tendencies within myself, that I could put something out there that would help others get in touch with their own beliefs about honesty and their own experience with trying to live a life of integrity.

And I am grateful for every message I’ve received from people who read my book and said it helped them do just that. You have no idea how much I appreciate your emails and good reviews.

But it still turns out that half the country doesn’t seem to give an actual fuck about honesty. I don’t mean to say Democrats care about honesty and Republicans don’t. At its root, honesty is not linked to any political party. But the fact remains that 73 million people decided that they can take or leave honesty in a leader. Yet if you ask those same people what values they hold up to be most important in life, a bunch of them would say honesty. It’s delusion on top of lies on top of narcissism. And just for good measure, there’s a bunch of bullshit pretend Christianity thrown in, just to really top off the hypocrisy.

It’s so broken, we need a new word. Fucked, maybe. Except I’m not supposed to say that one in front of my kids, and they desperately need to be in this conversation.

I do realize that we’ve had dishonest, broken thinking since the beginning of this country, when a bunch of men got together and proclaimed freedom and equality as the bedrock truths of a country that was enslaving an entire group of people and committing systematic genocide against another. I know we’ve been hypocrites all along. I thought if I came clean about my own hypocrisy, it would shift something. And it did, for me personally.

But I felt no shift in the dynamic at large. In fact, a bunch of people merely doubled down. Now, more didn’t. And I try to remember that. But the squandering of truth is . . . the word that jumps out at me is immoral. As in deeply, purposefully wrong.

So now, I’m walking around (as well as you can walk in a boot) with the knowledge that so many of my fellow Americans—including some people I am related to and love—do not value honesty in a meaningful way. That’s a fracture I don’t know how we’ll heal.

As for my foot? It will heal in time. But my left ankle will always be a vulnerability. Running won’t be the same. Neither will being an American.


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