The Defiance of Olympians

I’m excited. Ashamedly, it’s not for the reason you’re thinking. I mean, I dig the Olympics and all, but I’m stoked that for the next 16 glorious days, election news takes a back seat to sport. Albeit sport with controversy, virus-laden insects, and waters strewn with human body parts, but whatevs! It’s not “Heartless Hillary” or “Dangerous Donald”. I’m happy.

And in the spirit of sport, I started thinking what it might feel like to be an Olympic athlete. That’s almost comical coming from someone whose greatest athletic achievement is running a half marathon, slowly, and in about the same time the Olympic qualifier ran the full. Yeah…about that.

But my husband is an athlete, a rather superior one if you ask me. Cross country runner, snowboard instructor, mountain biker, rock climber, you name it and if he’s not good at it now, give him ten minutes and a decent instructor. Despite this freakish aptitude, he maintains that he is “just average”.

Normally, I’d think that was hubris masked as humility. I’m cynical like that. But, I kind of feel that way too. I went to school on a highly competitive, full academic scholarship. Laughable now as I’ve been fortunate to help select those that followed me, and let’s just say 17 years later, I would not make the cut. But they gave it to me, and I took it, and it was a foundational experience.

The folks I shared the classroom with are extraordinary people. They’ve dressed Beyonce, been recognized by the White House, and traveled the world to reinvent toilets (no shit…hahaha). In short, they’re rock stars — socially, intellectually, ethically. I work hard, and I’ve achieved my titles and stood in my spotlight, but I will never be able to shake the feeling of being “just average” when compared to their company.

I wonder if that’s how Olympians feel. Do they see their greatness juxtaposed to the rest of the world? Or is their greatness relative only to those who share Rio’s stage? Do they measure themselves by the medals they win? Or by the neck candy of their teammates, rivals, and idols? Are they having fun? Or are they simply performing the steps of another’s story?

I hope it’s the former. I hope the amaze-balls of the Olympics shines down on them with unequivocal truth. They are greatness. They are winners. This is fun.

I hope they feel extraordinary.

I’m excited. Tonight we get a break from the bullshit. Tonight we watch greatness win. I’m just grateful to be invited to the party.