Monday, July 30, 2012

Let the games begin

Al and I are not tv-teetotalers.  We just don't have it in the house.  

For many years, we had our phone, internet and TV bundled in either a cable or satellite package, but last winter we realized that entire months would go by that we never used the television service.  We like to watch movies, but television has never been a habit for us, so we decided to restructure the internet and phone providers and ditch the television altogether.   It made sense.  

We really haven't missed TV,  but I know there are some times we will, notably, in March when we want to cheer the UConn women Huskies tovictory in the NCAA women's basketball championships.

And, every 2 years when the Olympics occur.  It was actually the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo that motivated us to buy our first color television. Before that we had a little 13" black and white TV and it was hard to tell one downhill skier from another.  

It is a little odd that we miss watching sports.  We like to ride our bikes, enjoy a friendly volley on the tennis court, and tolerate running, but we are no means competitive athletes.  But there is something incredibly inspirational about watching the best in the world strive to be even better.

The Watercube in Beijing where Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals!
I was looking through my high school year book recently and found the autograph of one of my friends that said, "Best of luck to someone with a double dose of the Puritan work ethic."  If I have a double dose, these athletes have a giga-dose of that ethic.  Think about it.  Sprinters train for years to run a 10 second race where the difference between triumph and defeat is about 10 milliseconds.  Gymnasts repeat their routines thousands of times, but a small slip, an extra hop or step out of bounds will cost them the medal.

I am glad that in my work, my margin of error is a bit more forgiving.

Fortuitously, I was in San Francisco when the Olympics began,  so I got to watch the opening ceremonies and a few of the early events on the TV in my hotel room.  The opening ceremony was quite a spectacle and it was both exciting and moving to see the parade of thousands of athletes from over 200 countries, including the first women competitors from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and the South African runner, who despite being  born without lower legs, competes at the Olympic level with prosthetic limbs. 

I imagine that Sir Paul McCartney is pretty cool about performing these days.  He's done a few concerts in his day, you know, and  I doubt if he loses his composure often. I found it  more than little touching that when he began to sing "Hey Jude" after the Olympic torch was lit, he seemed to get a little choked up, although I must say it is not apparent in the YouTube video.  I was not the only one who heard it; the NBC commentator made note of it as well.  In any case,  he recovered quickly and of course, everyone joined right in.  There was energy and joy on the faces of the athletes as they danced and sang along, that I could feel, even several thousand miles away during a rebroadcast shown on a TV screen.  Imagine actually being there!

I have had the incredible good fortune of seeing Sir Paul perform live twice- once in the Palace in Auburn Hills, and once in Comerica Park in Detroit.  His music and persona ignite joyous energy in the crowds and soon everyone is singing and dancing to his familiar songs.  Paul McCartney is not a musical genius, but his music has brought joy to millions.  Not many people have that kind of impact.

It us much like those Olympic athletes, who bring joy and hope to people all over the world.  By doing the impossible, they remind us all of what is possible. 

Good luck to all the Olympic athletes!

My original plan for today's post was to write about the indignities and hassles of air travel.  But, then I thought about it.  Today, in just 8 hours, I traveled 2500 miles safely.  This summer, our family has safely journeyed great distances, in remarkably short amounts of time.  And this evening,  I observed airline personnel deal patiently and compassionately with a upset and disruptive mentally-ill passenger, finally resolving her problem as best they could.  So, despite annoyances here and there, I am grateful for the airlines and the service they provide.

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