The Olympics are over. I am pretty sure I am not alone in feeling a pang of sadness every time I see the torch go out. I always enjoy the pageantry, the extraordinary achievements and the human stories.
It's mostly the human stories - I mean these are regular human beings doing these super human things. It is such a testament to what we all can achieve... be... do.
But I was really struck this week by the stories about the Ryan Lochte shenanigans and the controversy around Gabby Douglas. My heart goes out to both of these young people. Gabby Douglas didn't put her hand on her heart for the anthem and some people didn't like the way she comported herself in the audience during the Individual All-Around. I feel for the girl. I don't always put my hand over my heart, but not for any reason other than I am not thinking about it. It's not like the girl didn't have all kinds of things swirling around in her head. And one of those things was the fact that she was going to be denied the opportunity to compete to defend her all around title, despite the fact that she qualified third among all the athletes, because only two from each country are allowed.
I understand the rule - but I can only begin to understand how difficult that must have been to swallow. Then, she had to sit in the stands and cheer for her teammates. I mean come on. That had to be excruciating. No matter how much you love the other girls, that had to be so incredibly hard to watch. How could she not be wondering "What if...?" and "If only...?" My heart breaks for her. I thought she was stoic and graceful in an impossible situation. I'm sure she wished her teammates well, but I am just as sure that she could just about taste what had been denied her.
And Ryan Lochte? I can certainly understand that he was so intoxicated he probably didn't really comprehend what was happening and only understood the gun and that he had to give money. He was drunk. Hammered. Plastered. Pick your term.
Of course, he is no kid at 32. We could all say he "should have known better," and he probably should have. And "how dare he lie, even to his mother?" The guy was probably not completely sober when he started telling his story. He got it wrong. He made an ass of himself. He caused his teammates enormous problems and expense as well as embarrassment to the USA as a whole. I felt embarrassed.
But I also think it is possible that we can open our hearts to these seemingly super-human beings and allow them to be imperfect. BOTH of them. ALL of them. Just because you can swim fast or fly high really doesn't make you any less human. We all make mistakes. Holding them up to a very public, glaring microscope and expecting to find no zits really isn't fair.
For my part, I am grateful to them both, and to all the athletes, commentators, technicians, volunteers, clean up crews - I mean I can't even begin to list off all the categories or the millions of people it takes to pull something like this off - and much of it for the entertainment of folks like me. In the scheme of life's mistakes, getting hammered after years of training, causing vandalism, public urination or not being as ebullient in the face of a huge disappointment and living up to someone's idea of patriotism, seems pretty minute to me. Not when they've spent they're entire lives working as hard as they have. Let's give them a break. Let's give each other a break. Let's give ourselves a break. We all deserve it.
Life coach, yoga teacher, writer, college professor, theatre professional, mom, wife... the order of emphasis changes daily, hourly, and often, moment to moment.