We light the Olympics torch in a changed world.
I used to dream of being in the Olympics. As a teen, I started running long-distance. Every day it was my favorite time of day, putting on my shoes and running for hours, getting lost in cities, across bridges, through parks, down market lanes and hidden alleys. I dreamed.
My dreams were of competitions against runners from all over the globe, measuring myself against others. I never thought I was the best. I just wanted to experience running with the best; to feel their energy, their perfection of the human form.
That’s the enchantment of the Olympic dream. What limits can humans exceed? How far, how high, how fast can we go?
If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success. James Cameron
We give out medals to the winners, but the Olympic ideal is in failure. I’ve always believed that. When the winners cross the finish line I watch the losers, hands on thighs, bent over, sucking for air, but not with a shattered dream, at least I don’t see it that way. They’ve pushed their limits. They went as fast, as far, as high as they could go; inspiration for all of us.
That’s my romance with the Olympics, winter and summer, watching the best of us. What astounding physical feat will we witness?
I’ve had to fight through layers of commodification to keep my dream in tact. Rolls of tone-deaf broadcasters droning on and on about everything but the Games at hand. Dictators preening for the cameras, posing on podiums built of human suffering. The white-washing of history, the false pride of anthems, the need to cheat to win, to score endorsements and turn metal into cash, a sick alchemy of entitlement, deals, and exploitation.
I’ve fought through all of it because I still thrill to the triumphs and defeat. I still need to witness the achievements. But 2021 is a different world.
A global pandemic kills 5 million. The roaring Climate Crisis sweeps across the desert cities of LA, Las Vegas, Phoenix, sweeps away towns along the Meuse in Germany, scorches the Pacific-Northwest.
We’re born from the world, not into it. Much as the ocean creates waves…