The Olympics have begun. As a public service for those who don’t follow winter sports, here’s what I’ve learned:
Figure skating is not what you do on a work sheet in 4th period math class;
The Half Pipe has nothing to do with defective plumbing and;
Sliders are not what’s available at your local White Castle. Sliders compete in the Luge (and no, luge bears no resemblance to any embarrassing discharge from ones nose).
It was quite a show. But then again, if you spend the fifty-billion dollars ($50B) the Russians spent on the Sochi Games, you can buy an opening ceremony broadcast watched by 1-billion people…that’s roughly 1 of every 7 people on the Planet…a lot of money. But then again, such an outlay makes what advertisers spent on Super Bowl ads seem like a bargain when you throw in the added bonus of being able to rewrite some of your own history in the retelling. Such a deal!
For me, one of the highlights of any Olympics are the Opening Ceremonies. I am always intrigued about how elaborate Rube Goldbergian designers can make the chain reaction between lighting the ‘fuse’ and watching the Olympic Cauldron erupt into flame. But before the final torch bearers had to run outside to light the Cauldron, 88 participating nations paraded, entering Fisht Olympic Stadium in an order that only makes sense if you know the Russian alphabet.
Jamaican flag bearer Marvin Dixon leads his country’s Olympic team onto the stage during the opening ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Fisht Olympic Stadium. (Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Sports)
I don’t think I was unique in being bored at some point during the parade. I’m pleased the pacific nation of Tonga had it’s moment of entrance, but I don’t know anyone from there…I didn’t even know they had Winter. I’m happy the Canadians were obviously having a good time, but the United States team was so far back in the order one could have read a good book and still had time to come back to watch the Americans enter.
It was during the long tedious march when one of the commentators said something that really struck a chord.
So many of the Olympians who entered the stadium did so knowing full well they had little or no chance of even remotely winning their event, much less medaling. So I have to ask, “What’s the point?” We are so conditioned to winning; to gaining the external symbols of victory that one has to ask, ‘If you aren’t winning a medal, what’s the point of being there?’.
For many of the participants, the opening ceremonies represent the culmination of years spent in solitary training, conditioning and practicing their craft long before their moment of being in the parade. Think about it. Repeating the same moves in relentless pursuit of perfection that will likely never be achieved. Why?
It is their passion. It is that one individuals preoccupation with being the best they can be; to do the best they can. Nothing external in that yard stick. It is all about them knowing they pushed themselves to a place they would not have otherwise have reached. Personal best. And that accomplished, they earned the right to march behind their nation’s flag – proof positive that they were the best in the place from which they had come in their journey to Sochi.
Put in that light, I can genuinely understand how the opening ceremony makes for a life-long memory they’ll be able to tell their grand children. For them, it has everything to do with participating…being there.
I think each of us can draw strength from their example. Whether we’re working at a fast food restaurant or going to school; working a mind-numbing job for 40+ hours a week or facing retirement after a long and varied career – we’re there. Each of us stands on our own Olympic field of honor that is the Life we lead. There are rarely any gold medals or television cameras to document much of anything we do on our personal fields of valor, but we know. And we know because we did the work.
Each of us knows the lonely mornings and grueling practice that comes with being better than we were the day before. I know when I’ve done something I never thought I could. And as authentic that moment of recognition is within myself, what you may not know is how many of you were there giving me the courage to even try in the first place. So as you go through your week this week, take just a moment to remember you will likely never know when someone facing overwhelming odds is looking at your performance as their source of courage. And that, my fellow reader, is the definition of gold. Hard won, well done. My gold is yours and yours, I’m pleased to say, is mine. So wherever it is for you, in some small way, I look forward to seeing you on your medal stand this week. Save me a spot. I’ll be there too.
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN
(July 23, 1967 – February 2, 2014)
“To be loved, I think, is the thing that gets you up in the morning.”
– Phillip Seymour Hoffman
“It’s never that simple – why we’re here, what are we doing? Family, work, friends, hopes, dreams, careers… What is happiness? What is success? What does it mean? Is it important? How do you get it? To be loved, I think, is the thing that gets you up in the morning.”
My heart goes out to Mr. Hoffman’s loved ones and all those like them who walk through the valley of the shadow of addictions. Mustering my compassion, I wish them courage as they walk into the face of every new day from here on out. May they find some manner of Peace.
Sources:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Seymour_Hoffman;http://orensanzfortheartsnyc.org/Foundation/tag/philip-seymour-hoffman/and photo (hoffman1): http://orensanzfortheartsnyc.org/Foundation/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/hoffman1.jpeg
(née Adams; August 8, 1930 – February 3, 2014)
“Live your life as if it was a work of art”
– Joan Mondale
“In memorializing Joan Mondale, the nation’s second lady, former President Jimmy Carter said Saturday that he sought out a phrase that best captured her spirit, settling on: “Live your life as if it was a work of art.”
Carter said he and his wife Rosalynn shared with Walter and Joan Mondale an “intimate and constantly gratifying life as friends” that began the day they met in 1976 at the Carter home in Plains, Ga., when he was bringing in vice presidential candidates.
“We fell in love with Joan and decided that both of them would have to come together,” he said to great laughter from nearly 1,400 who gathered to honor and remember Joan Mondale at Westminster Presbyterian Church in downtown Minneapolis. Mondale, 83, died Monday, surrounded by her husband of 58 years, sons and family members at Mount Olivet Careview Home in Minneapolis, where she had been receiving hospice care since Jan. 31.
Carter, Vice President Joe Biden, Joan Mondale’s sister, friends and aides remembered her as tenacious, smart and driven, as well as a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, artist, activist and leader. Each spoke warmly of Mondale’s talents and all interspersed saucy anecdotes about her “core of irreverence.” Many jokes came at the expense of her husband, former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, whom all referred to as “Fritz.”
“Joan of Art,” as she was fondly known, was beside her husband during his time in the U.S. Senate, his vice presidency in the late 1970s, his presidential candidacy in 1984 and his tenure as ambassador to Japan in the 1990s.
Her cremated remains sat in an urn on a table at the front of the sanctuary during the two-hour service, with two abundant sprays of pink roses and tulips on either side. The mood was mostly upbeat, warm and playful.”
and photo (Joan Mondale (AP) 101388479-AP464024642035.530×298): http://www.cnbc.com/id/101386428
– New York Daily News.
February 7th marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ US debut. On this date in 1964, music and pop culture collided with the status quo in a way we had never seen before. The resulting fusion created waves still being ridden today. For that, we can be thankful…even today.
I tried to narrow down one track to share but their library is so large that I can’t. So I chose three of at least seven favs. I leave the rest up to you.
Pick a door, any door and give it a ‘click’.
Something really good waits on the other side.
http://www.thebeatles.com/; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beatles; Youtube clips credited at their links; photo credit: (beatles arriving at JFK on February 7th, 1964): http://www.nbcnews.com/news/photo/british-invasion-begins-beatles-land-u-s-50-years-ago-n23451
SOURCES, PHOTO CREDITS and ATTRIBUTIONS: Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission. Visit Eric and see his other work at: http://www.ericephoto.com or http://ericephoto.wordpress.com/
Lithuania’s flag-bearer Deividas Stagniunas leads his country’s contingent as they march in during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/feb/07/sochi-2014-winter-olympics-opening-ceremony-live; World Population: http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/01/30/global-population/OLYH72-OLYMPICS-CEREMONY—620×350: http://on.theglobeandmail.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/OLYH72-OLYMPICS-CEREMONY–620×350.jpg; jamaicamon2014 (photo by Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Sports): http://q.usatoday.com/2014/02/07/sochi-olympics-opening-ceremony/; 08sochi-hp4-jumbo – United States Olympic Team enters the Olympic Opening Ceremony (photo by James Hill for The New York Times): http://static01.nyt.com/images/2014/02/08/sports/08sochi-hp4/08sochi-hp4-jumbo.jpg; CGM-Voucher_black: http://www.cgmfitness.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/CGM-Voucher_black.jpg; ErwittJumpingDog (“Paris, France” Elliott Erwitt (1989)): http://1.bp.blogspot.com/–MH5zq5v8p0/TlGBu_3wR9I/AAAAAAAAApE/0Ydufoyhxxc/s640/ErwittJumpingDog.jpg; Beatles – Abbey Road (Painting 12×12) blue: http://erikesemo.blogspot.com/2010_10_01_archive.html; the_beatles-the-abbey_road-front (yellow and black): http://lh5.ggpht.com/-e3dRhFXis68/T4kck8sS4kI/AAAAAAAAHcw/qQyyRwUfM7Y/s9000/the_beatles-the-abbey_road-front.jpg; BeatlesAbbeyRoad900Gb210512: http://www.nme.com/news/the-beatles/63923; This being 2014, such a public gaffe means a couple of things will probably follow: a parody twitter and/or a commemorative T-shirt. Here’s your Olympic ring fail T-shirt. It was created by Michael Miller, a designer at a New York advertising agency and it’s already for sale. It’ll cost you $22.95 (around £14): http://l3.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/g.J8bXlEPAmZy7yBpZvPHw–/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NQ–/http://media.zenfs.com/en-GB/blogs/the-sochi-network-uk/RingsShirt.jpg;
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