Ok… I’ve been trying to be so good! I’ve diligently made myself hold off on writing about the Olympics, but, I. Cannot. Wait. Any. Longer. I am beyond excited. Not to be trite, but I am like a kid in a candy store during the Olympics. I watch every second I can. That obscure sport that is only shown at 3 AM on a Wednesday night… yep, I’m watching. The athlete who is competing under the Olympic flag because he does not have a country, I can tell you his story. I am the person who gets teary-eyed during the Proctor and Gamble commercials and break out the tissues for the Visa commercials (I’m pretty sure Morgan Freeman could simply say, Hi, my name is Morgan Freeman and I would be teary eyed, his voice just gets me emotional).
I am often asked why I like the Olympics so much and why they are so very important to me… I don’t know that I can adequately explain it, but I will try. I love that in a world that is often times so cynical and so cruel that for two weeks people stop and celebrate what is so remarkable about our world. I love when you are watching athletes compete and you see magic happen. What do I mean by magic? It is when you see great acts of courage, amazing feats of strength or ability, humble sportsmanship, but most importantly,when we stop cheering for just one nation and when we cheer for all the athletes.
For most of the Olympians, their big Olympic moments are during the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. The moment when they first walk in during the Opening Ceremony, wearing their nation’s colors and waving their nation’s flag. That moment when the world recognizes them for the talent and their dedication to their sport. Then you have the Closing Ceremony where all the athletes enter without regard to county. They walk in as one vast wave of humanity, which I find so very touching and inspiring. People who would never meet otherwise, people who might be “enemies” because of birth country, have had a chance to form bonds of friendship and goodwill during the Olympic Games and they can take those bonds back with them when they return home.
I appreciate the Olympics for what they do to elevate the human spirit, the human condition. We live in a cruel and unfair world. A world where innocence is lost easily and hope is sometimes hard to find. Around the world socially, politically, economically there are great issues and great discord raging. However, the Olympic Games has this way of healing the human spirit. The Games give people back some pride and some hope.
We, as a people stop seeing all of the ways that we are different, instead, we see all of the ways that we are similar. The Games prove to us (even if only for two weeks) that the things that divide us are nothing compared to that which unites us as a world community. We cheer for the athletes who have given so much, overcome so much, borne so much, we cheer for their families who have made such great and sometimes heart-wrenching sacrifices so that their children can live the Olympic Dream. We cheer when a sprinter who was favored to win a medal finishes the race in last place after tearing a hamstring when nobody thought he would be able to finish. We cheer when a young girl lands a vault on an injured leg that seems impossible. We cheer when moments of great courage, moments of great sportsmanship, moments of humbling humanity emerge from the Games. We cheer when people become more than they ever thought possible. We cheer because we at home hope that if they can overcome and succeed, so can we. To quote Morgan Freeman in one of the Visa Commercials, “We cheer because they are human and because we are human.”
I hope that during these Olympic Games you take some time to watch these amazing athletes and their stories unfold.
Until We Meet Again,