Vancouver 2010 Olympics!
I’m like the average Canadian, giddy as heck that the Olympics are in our back yard but slightly worried about the socio-economic implications. Exorbidant spending, environmental irresponsibility, and false pretences – like asking for taxpayer money to fund the Athlete’s Village, vowing to turn it into low-income housing after the games, and once the public has invested, deciding to sell the real estate privately after the games- seem like bad news. I also am a bit ashamed of our unsportsmanilike behaviour in restricting foreign athlete’s access to training at the venues. And yet…. and yet, I am patriotic, enthusiastic, and attending an event. On Friday, I’ll be checking out the GER-FIN men’s hockey game. I just couldn’t stay away. To experience a city bursting with energy of a hundred nations is not an opportunity to miss.
Despite my reservations, in my core there is Olympic spirit. I grew up in a winter-sport mecca – Thunder Bay, Ontario – and regularly place ice hockey, ski, and snowboard. I grew up watching the games on CBC, counting Canada’s medals with my elementary school classes, and pretending I was ‘hot stuff’ on the backyard pond. When I was tiny (4!) my dad’s friend was selected to run with the torch through our city. We cheered him on from the side of the road, and he invited us to run with him. We did, and he passed the torch to us. Quickly, the security folks came over and said that move was a no-no. But, for a brief moment, I held that symbol of human strength and achievement in my hand.
I don’t follow sports on TV and though proud to be a Canadian, I generally don’t wear it on my sleeve. For these months, however, I feel like I’m bursting with patriotic spirit and faith in the ability of humans to amaze each other on a regular basis. And I’m desperate to watch it unfold!
I believe in the power of each human to do great good (and great evil). I bow to the strength, perseverance, and self-discipline of the athletes who make it to the games; I especially feel in awe of those who have regular jobs to support their training and of those, including all of the Parolympians, who have overcome huge adversity to pursue their dreams. There are few people who have the raw physical talent to carry them; most who arrive at the games have a degree of dedication that I could never imagine having. Can they bottle that?!
Another part of being human is not being perfect, but having the balls to try.
So, where is this all going? No where medical, I suppose, except that what our atheletes face sometimes makes other things feel small. When I think “woe is me, I’ve got a wee cold” or a patient shares that sentiment with me, I should probably laugh it away. We are not racing down icey tubes at 100km/h, pistoning knees through dozens of moguls, nor remaining airborne while our bodies rotate immeasurable times. Those feats certainly humble the complainer in me.
We, all humans, I mean, are susceptible to disease. We should do our best to overcome it or to bear it with grace if we want to follow the Olympic way. Best wishes for all the athletes, volunteers, spectators, and locals who are touched in any way by the Games. Be safe and healthy!