As the Olympic Games in London begin to close, we relish the two weeks enjoyed of wonderful personal stories, fabulous performances, breath-taking finishes and heart-warming displays of sportsmanship.
These last two weeks we have found ourselves watching events uncommon to us, cheering for handball or trampoline or water polo or archery. We’ve dragged ourselves away from our normal routines of baseball, football, hockey and basketball and, for the last two weeks, we have learned the languages of sports we’ve never before enjoyed.
Let’s not stop.
For the brain injured, for anyone needing to restart their lives after all of their normal has been stripped, the Olympics provide a serious, wonderful, hopeful dose of what is possible in each of us.
There have been countless stories of personal hardship and tragedy overcome in these games. Athletes so determined to take their natural gifts and hone them, test them, improve them and celebrate them.
Life is no different.
You don’t see any members of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team setting in a volleyball match. They aren’t riding any horses or throwing the discus.
You don’t see Michael Phelps jumping on the trampoline or rowing in the men’s 8 boating crew competition.
These athletes, like all of us need to do, found what they are good at and put their efforts and energies into that. They built dreams around what they can do. What they can succeed in.
Not what they can’t.
As we have proven to ourselves, these last two weeks, we CAN enjoy new things. We CAN get excited about unfamiliar and uncommon events and interests.
We aren’t chained only to what was lost in our lives and what we can no longer do.
Bring on the Steeple Chase!
Let’s take the lessons offered by the Olympic Games and not wait another two years or four years to enjoy them again.
Let’s enjoy them every day.
Some of the most enjoyable moments in life are when we dream a dream, set a goal, work hard towards it, stand ourselves against others to see how we match up, compete and then shake the hands and congratulate the winners, whomever they are.
These last two weeks I cheered for a man with no legs who competed in the sprints. I cheered for a man who came in last in rowing. I cheered for a woman who held the hope of a needful nation on her shoulders. I cheered for a woman who got injured before the Games and could not compete and chase her dream.
It doesn’t matter the country they were from. Joy and heartbreak don’t wear colors. When we recognize and identify with someone’s challenges, they become more like us, no matter where they are from.
What an outstanding world if we all fought fair. If we worked hard with honor and respect and tried our best and looked into the eyes of winners, even those who have beaten us, and said, “Well done!”
And for the brain injured? For those of us, any of us, struggling to restart our lives….
That sprinter with no legs didn’t simply concede the Olympics and run in the Paralympics. He refused to be constricted by his missing legs. By others’ expectations or lack thereof.
He is living proof that the disabled, or differently-abled, can succeed against the “normal.” Just as those athletes in the Paralympic Games are better athletes than 90 percent of “normal” people in any country and in any sport. Only we define ourselves. Only we build the bars on our windows. Only we give away the keys to our cages.
Try the hurdles. Try rowing. Try beach volleyball. Try to stand on a balance beam.
Every attempt to embrace and welcome different and uncommon is an opportunity for us to win medals in the games of our lives.
When we choose to pursue new….When we decide to pick up different….When we determine to attempt unusual, we are turning on the lights in our brains, we are filling our hearts and we are unleashing our souls-allowing them to soar.
Let’s cheer for each other, regardless of the uniform. Let’s cheer those who do it right, who try their best, who work their tails off…
Let’s cheer good. Let’s shake the hands of the winners, regardless of the colors they wear. Let’s honor their accomplishments and celebrate their personal achievements.
Whether it’s on the high school ball field or at our offices or in our families, let’s stand as tall even without the podium. Let’s raise US. Let’s raise our spirit and sense of sportsmanship.
Let’s get in the game! Any game. Let’s remember these athletes who work their whole lives for a ten-second race. For a two-minute race. For a three-hour match.
And let’s then dream for that ten seconds. For that two minutes. For that three hours. Let’s dream ourselves. Let’s imagine a better us. A better life. A life that sees us celebrating our personal victories. Let’s dare to dream of great things.
At the end of our lives, and perhaps after we have passed them, we will look back and realize that the anchors we held still against were those we, ourselves, toseed over our sailing ship, stilling them. That most of the battles we lost, or chose not to even dare fight, were first lost in our minds. In our doubts and fears.
I thank you, Olympic Games, for another dear reminder of what I can be. How I am becoming. How I can change.
I’m going to work to keep the Olympics alive in my everyday. In my heart. In my mind.
Bring on the Steeple Chase! You in?