I love watching the Olympics, but for me it is a two-edged sword. Let me explain.
I am an emotional person – which is actually kind of an understatement. Lots of things make me cry these days: movies, sporting events, commercials, commercials about movies about sporting events…you get the picture. The Olympics are no exception. The opening ceremony is usually something I kind of skip through, but I love watching the parade of athletes. I am inspired by the countries that have just a single athlete – the alpine skier from some desert country that has never even seen snow before, etc. I start to tear up as the Olympic flame comes into the stadium, the look of pride and excitement on the faces of those honored to carry it, a slight fear if this could be the year that someone trips and falls and the flames goes out. I love to cheer on the underdog, even when they are in direct competition with the good old USA. And of course this year there was the terrible tragedy before the games had even officially started, and of course the media will not let anyone forget about it, even for one single second; tormenting the family needlessly by camping out on their front doorstep (literally), asking the question that only tip-top journalists could come up with: How do you feel? Dude, seriously? HOW THE HELL DO YOU THINK THEY FEEL??? Your parents paid how much money for that degree in journalism?? Thank you so much for that insightful insight there Skippy. But I digress…
Oh yes, the two edged sword thing, right. It is a two edged sword because I am so inspired by so many of the athletes; many come from war-torn countries, or train with no sponsors and no money with sub-par equipment or training facilities. Some families make massive sacrifices so their children can pursue the dream of dreams, mortgaging the family home or quitting their jobs to devote themselves full time to their sport of choice. The athletes train from sun up to sun down for years to just be in the hunt, with no guarantee that there will be medals of precious metals in their future. They have self discipline and dedication up the ying yang. And some of those athletes come in dead last (someone has to) and are just as proud of that as they would be if they had brought home gold. To just be able to say “I was there and I participated” fulfills a lifetime of dreams for them. I honestly have to say that I think I admire them a little more than some of those who stand on the podium at the end of the day, listening to their country’s national anthem fill the stadium and their fans cheering for them. I see and hear their stories and they make me weep. Yes, literally weep. I am so happy for them and proud of them and my heart breaks and the floodgates open. Man the lifeboats, Skippy! We’re taking on water!!
And here is where the flip side of the sword comes into play. The tears of pride often turn to tears of bitterness and self-pity. No, I was never a contender for the Olympics in any way, but sometimes I wonder – what if? What if my life had played out differently? What if I had learned to develop some sort of self-discipline and “no fear” attitude? Where would I be now? Probably not on the podium at the Olympics, but probably not 200lbs overweight and without relationships in my life either. And most of the time, it makes me weep because I feel like it’s too late for me. I have wasted away the last 25 years of my life and along with it, my youth. Too late to pursue dreams, too late for success, just flat out too late…for anything.
But that’s not really true, is it? (That’s a rhetorical question there, Skippy.) The Iron Man competition has divisions for those 60+ years old that participate. There are thousands of 40+ people that run in marathons every year. Now, I am not saying that it is one of my dreams to be an elite athlete (although I do dream of the Iron Man) (stop laughing – I really do!!); but I don’t want to continue life as a spectator, watching others fulfill their dreams while I sit on a soggy bleacher getting my butt wet.
How do I start? When do I finally say – with conviction – today is the day that I change my life?