03 Apr Here’s To Second Acts.
Do you ever think about your life and hope you have a good second act? Something great you can do after whatever it is you’re doing? Maybe I could be like Justin Timberlake after NSYNC – Or Mario Lemieux the Owner after Mario Lemieux the Player? I mean, I realize I need a much better Act One, but it’s something to aim for.
But then you hear about a second act that’s so impressive, so inspiring that you wonder how it ever happened.
I was talking to Sheldon Kennedy on the phone last week. He was calling me just after he landed from the airport, just after driving straight to Global TV for an interview, just before another engagement about the cause he believes in so much: helping and protecting young people from abuse. We were talking about him coming on Dave Kelly Live in a few weeks and reminiscing about the first time I talked to him. It was over a decade ago – his book was out and he was coming on TV for an interview.
On the phone, I told him I still remembered his book, and one detail that stuck with me: His story about a solo cocaine binge where he was so paranoid he kept checking the front door for imaginary intruders. Over and over. He doesn’t remember actually checking the door that much, he just remembers three days later he could hardly walk because his calves hurt.
“Oh yeah!” he says, laughing on the phone. “From standing on my tiptoes, looking out the peephole!” Another laugh. A huge laugh, a full laugh. The laugh of someone who can look back at a horrible time in his life from a much different place.
Sheldon Kennedy’s life was almost just one act – one act that goes very badly and ends in tragedy. A tragedy because the world already saw him as a hero, a man who was the first professional hockey player to talk about sexual abuse, a man who had his act together and was helping fix a huge wrong in the world, a man living a lie.
Because the truth was, no matter what the world saw, his act wasn’t together. He was divorced, his hockey career finished, and he was a drug addict. He couldn’t stop the nightmares, he couldn’t stop his brain from unravelling, he couldn’t stop.
He was at rock bottom.
There was no laughing on the phone then. No laughing anywhere.
Today, Sheldon Kennedy is synonymous with courage and greatness. His Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre is the first of it’s kind in Canada and the world. He has spoken with prime ministers and presidents, he has spoken to the Senate in the United States. He has been awarded the highest civilian award in our country – as a member of the Order of Canada.
No one would blame him if his second act was just surviving. But somehow, it wasn’t. It isn’t. It’s an incredible second act.
On Dave Kelly Live, I am going to ask Sheldon about his second act. About how he managed to put the gun down, find his way out of his basement, how he slowly, gradually, walked out of the darkness to a better life, a life with purpose and meaning.
How does someone find the strength to do that? How does someone find the heart?
Who helped him? What helped him?
What can we learn from his example?
What can we do to help the cause he believes in so much?
What can we do to find a second act for ourselves?
What do we do when we are full of fear, doubt, and secrets?
He found a way to break free from the secret and create something phenomenal.
We’re so lucky to have him walk onto our show on April 12th- our city and country is lucky that he walked out of his basement 12 years ago – and I hope you can come hear what he has to say.
Even more, I hope you can come to hear him laugh.
It’s pretty impressive.