The last Olympics that I remember caring about was 96 – the year without tv.
On one shamefully typical Saturday, my brother and I were parked on the couch watching TV when the cable went out. I figured it was just a normal glitch. We had slept in that morning, as usual. Meanwhile, my dad was outside doing yard work. And something tells me that he didn’t like the idea of his teens being zombies in front of the TV while he worked hard. His way of dealing with it?
– Literally, cutting the cable line.
I don’t know what he used. Gardening sheers? But I do know that the cable line was dangling limp across our yard when we emerged from the house. (I suppose he called the cable company latter to cancel?) In the end I was thankful for it…but our one plea was that he get it back for the Olympics.
Those Olympics in 96′ did not disappoint..but truth be told, I don’t really remember them much. I’ve had a fair amount of memories wiped off of my hard drive to make room for new data, essential info for my son’s care.
But last night. I watched the Olympics in rapt attention, and somewhere –
– somewhere between the back stories
– somewhere in watching Phelps deal with disappointment of the last split second of his 200 butterfly
– somewhere in witnessing a very proud father shed tears as he wrapped his face in the flag of South Africa
– where Russian gymnasts wept bitter tears and our gymnasts soared with hope
– somewhere in the split second that made the difference
– and all the talk
– the striving
– imagining the years of grueling training
– somewhere in there the magic sunk deep.
Living with disability* has much of this fickle magic. Granted…on a much more private front…but oh! This has so much of what I’ve seen on the TV – the parents that look a bit crazy – obsessed as they watch every detail of their daughters routine (very easy to criticize them when you haven’t logged their bleacher hours, miles, and hotel bills, I’m sure). I do that every day with my child’s speech…just hoping and praying his muscles will coordinate to actually be able to speak that word on the tip of his tongue…the cry for help, the words “I love you!” …those words are Olympic moments around here! Steps in a gait trainer! Smiles that let us know he’s hearing us correctly! All huge gifts that have us on the edge of our seat!
And oh the tears…of the disappointment, and triumph!
…and then there is the magic pride in country – in something bigger than ourselves! It is country that they make proud, and country that gets them there – that puts them on that stage.
And our flag. It moves. I think of the soldiers that have endured torture…men who define the word brave – men who, upon release from captivity, are brought to weeping at the site of their flag. How do these threads weave such patriotic wonder? I think it must be the cost – the cost of what it takes to create and uphold such a great nation. My heart swells to think of what that red white and blue mean.
After years away from the wonder of the Olympics, I am in awe….as I suspect just about anyone is. It is with utter wonder that we watch the human body at its finest, and even more so to see the triumph of the human spirit, in the dejected gymnast giving all for team…and of course the bigger forces that move to put these incredible athletes out there and
We all love the Olympics because they showcase the human condition in living art. The Olympics bare the triumph of the spirit and discipline of mind and body …and the crushing blows of fate or error. It is a grand and tumultuous tale, weaved one day after another. Sometimes predictable and other times with hitches and sharp turns that have me jumping to the edge of our chair. And I love it, like I love any good story, because it represents the best and the worst of our life, your life, all of our lives. It is a story about faith and trial and so much more than sports.