'Twas the morning after the Super Bowl and all through the house (okay, it's an apartment, but you get the drift), not a creature was stirring ... because they knew that there would be no more football for 6 months and they were sad about that (well, maybe not the cats, but their mistress was bummed). Then she was reminded that when one thing ends, something else begins, often something quite wonderful, and wonderful it is - the Winter Olympics begin this week!
I am a huge fan of the Olympics, particularly the Winter Olympics. There is something breathtaking about watching someone glide across the ice with the grace of a swan, or manifesting quadruple jumps like it was nothing, or conquering a mountain by flying down its snowy slopes on two thin pieces of wood. It isn't even so much about what they do, however, as it is why, and how. For each of these brave Olympians, their hero's journey began way before they took to the ice or the snow. It began in their hearts.
I believe that champions are those who have a dream, believe in that dream with every fiber of their being, and make an unbreakable commitment to themselves to see it through. They are willing to face adversity and physical pain over and over again, yet still telling themselves every minute of every day: "I can do this." Some of the most remarkable examples of courage I've ever seen came from people like Olympic Gold Medal skater Scott Hamilton who fought cancer, not once but several times, and still laced up those skates to start again. I see it in Olympic Gold Medal skier Lindsey Von who overcame what to any of us would have been a devastating injury so she could fly down the mountain again. These are people, ordinary people just like you and me, who were willing to give up everything to make their dreams a reality: all those early morning practices before the sun was even up, all those hours in the gym building muscles and stamina with nothing but pain, blood, sweat, and tears, all those times they fell down and simply got up again and again. They believed in themselves and in the power of infinite possibilities. Anyone could end up on that podium, so why shouldn't it be them?
On Friday we'll watch the opening ceremonies where the athletes from all the nations of the world will march into that stadium proudly wearing their colors and carrying their country's flag, knowing in their hearts that come what may, all of that grit, grime, and faith in themselves has gotten them there. No matter what happens going forward, they will remember that moment for the rest of their lives, that moment when they knew deep in their hearts that they were already champions. It was their courage and their faith in their dreams that made them champions. Watching them makes us believe that we can be champions in our own lives, too.
And so it is.