Friday, August 8, 2008

Olympic Aspirations

I'm crazy about the Olympics. I love all of it. I love the opening ceremonies, I love the swimming. I love the gymnastics and the diving and the sprinting and the...well, like I said, I love all of it. I love the personal profiles of all the athletes and the way the world seems to come together. I love learning about the under dogs and hoping for a Cinderella story. I love the discipline and the amazing physical spectacle. I could easily spend the next two weeks watching every minute. Good thing I have a job so I don't get too obsessed.

And this year it's in China, which is meaningful for me since I studied at NanJing University and I speak Chinese. I found myself getting a little teary during the opening ceremonies and watching the cultural display of the best that is China. It gets too easy to forget how amazing the Chinese culture is with all of the negative aspects in the news lately.

I have loved the Olympics since I was a kid. I have vivid memories centered around my grandma and grandpa's little farm house one summer which served as the gathering place for me and my young aunts and uncles mesmerized by hour after hour of the competition on a little black and white TV in the tiny living room. During the boring stuff we would run outside and twist each other up on the swings and jump on the trampoline pretending we were Olympic athletes. It was the year that Nadia Comaneci got her perfect 10 and every little farm girl dreamed of being her.

That was a magical, optimistic time when I actually believed someday I would be an Olympic athlete. No, I wasn't sure in which sport, or what it would take, or how I would actually get there, but I was pretty sure, nonetheless, that I'd be carrying that American flag someday. (I realized tonight that it may not be too late since Japan has an athlete who is 67 years old. Hope springs eternal.)

The harsh reality is that I don't like pain enough to be an Olympic athlete. I'm not sure I even like pain enough to get through an entire spin class. But just watching the opening ceremonies tonight has made me want to somehow be faster, strong, better. I'll take it. I need all the encouragement and inspiration I can get.

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