Walking away is not an option... dialogue must prevail.

"A good listener tries to understand what the other person is saying. In the end he may disagree sharply, but because he disagrees, he wants to know exactly what it is he is disagreeing with."
- Kenneth A. Wells

"I do not want the peace that passeth understanding. I want the understanding which bringeth peace."
- Helen Keller

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I do believe... we are more.

12 years ago, I sat at home, a ball of hormones. I was nesting... waiting for the light of my life, the promise that was growing inside me, to join the world. I blamed my hormones for the tears that flowed as I watched the opening ceremony of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympiades.

But the fact of the matter is: I’m a sucker for the Olympic Games.

I love watching athletes from all over the world come together. There’s a glow about them. They’re filled with hope and promise, you can see it in their eyes. You can feel the pride on the face of the flag bearers. And the smiles on the faces of the athletes as they take part in the Parade of Nations is infectious.

My friend Tez's niece, Tamara Oudenaarden - first time Olympian
Long track speed skating

I love the anticipation during that moment before the puck drops, the bell rings, a whistle blows, a figure skater’s music starts. It’s the moment of promise.

Yesterday, I sat at home, waiting for a light from my grandfather’s homeland, Greece, to make its way to the big cauldron of the opening ceremony. There were sweet magical moments, as every day people ran through the streets of Vancouver, on that last day of the flame’s journey. A journey my daughter and I were blessed to have witnessed when, on it’s over 45,000 km cross-Canada trek, the flame was lit in our own community cauldron by a hometown Summer Olympian.

I cried tears of hope and pride, and remembrance, as Terry Fox’s dad, Rolly Fox received the flame from a cancer survivor. My heart swelled and tears flowed as I watched the quintessential hockey dad, Walter Gretzky, hold that torch high and run while people chanted “Go Canada” and afterwards he lead the crowd as they broke into a touching and genuine rendition of “Oh Canada”.

My heart broke when a reporter for CTV informed us of the tragic luge accident that would claim the life of a young Georgian Olympian who that night should have been with his team mates, taking in a moment that no athlete ever forgets, that moment when you get to walk behind your flag as the crowd cheers you on. Nodar Kumaritashvili’s passing reminded us of just how fragile life is and how living to the fullest is the only option.

His team mates chose to honour him and to embody the very spirit of the Olympics by marching in the opening ceremony and competing in the games. Georgia's Minister of Culture and Sport, Nikolos Rurua, said the Georgian team would "dedicate their performances to their fallen comrade.".  I don't think there was a dry eye in the place when the Georgian team entered the stadium.
As a Canadian, I will always remember them and I will keep them in my heart forever. As a Canadian, I nod in direction of the organizers who had both the Olympic and Canadian flags flying at half –mast as the ceremonies were dedicated to Nodar’s memory.

I was moved by John Furlong's words as he addressed the athletes and coaches: "may you carry his Olympic dream on your shoulders and compete with his spirit in your heart.".

I am immensely proud of my country. We have welcomed the world to our backyard and demonstrated what  makes this country great: the warmth and resolve of its people. This swelling pride is extended to all the athletes present at the games. When faced with tragedy, all rose up and found a way to move on. Tragedy need not define these Games, in the words of slam poet Shane Koyczan : “we live to get past the experiences we go through”.

“We are an experiment going right for a change.”
-Shane Koyczan


Daisy said...

The Olympics are such an amazing undertaking. It is so sad that there was such a tragic beginning to the events. I enjoy watching the Olympics and just thinking about all that they represent. I think the ice skating events are my favorites in the winter Olympics. Very nice post, Anndi. :)

Irish Gumbo said...

We are an experiment going right, indeed. Salute!

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

This is a wonderful post, Anndi! Your words have touched me down here snowed in in Kentucky.

Nessa said...

Watching athletes perform is very exciting.

Rosemary and Reflections

Akelamalu said...

Great post Anndi and you have every right to be proud. :)

Captain Dumbass said...

Watching Team Canada come up out of the tunnel, that sea of red...

And Shane Koyczan? He was amazing. Well written, Anndi.

Mimi Lenox said...

I love this post. You make me feel like I am there watching it with you. Thank you for sharing and bringing the games a little closer to all of us.

I found it so funny last night watching the news report the higher temperatures in BC when I see another blanket of snow out my window in the deep south. The world has gone backwards it seems.

Anndi said...

Daisy, I think part of the excitement comes from it being such a rare event. It was indeed very sad that a young athlete should lose his life. The winter sports have a risk component that we forget about sometimes.

IG, I loved that line!

Nick, I wish I could bottle up this feeling and share it with the world.

Nessa, it really is. They've worked hard to get a chance to shine.

Akelamalu, thank you =) I hope visitors will leave with an appreciation for my fellow Canadians.

Capt, I had goosebumps on my goosebumps. The roar of the crowd was wonderful! Shane is an inspiration.

Mimi, we've been waiting for this for a while. It's wonderful that it's finally here!

Roger said...

I know this is way off topic but Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your fam!

Anndi said...

Thank you Roger! *hug*

Jeff B said...

I had one of those rare "work all night" jobs and missed the whole opening ceremonies. I was bummed.

Ron said...

OMG, I haven't been watching any of the Olympics on T.V. so thank you for sharing this post, Anndi!

Reading your last paragraph made me very emotional. It was BEAUTIFUL!

I've never been to Canada, but I know it must be a very special place in this world, because everyone who visits and comes back says the same thing, "There is something so LOVING, KIND, and PEACEFUL about Canada. Everyone lives there with a feeling of acceptance and equality."

So, you should be proud my friend. Because that's a lot to be proud of!

X ya, Twin!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the positive outlook. I'm sick of the media coverage, hovering incessantly over the negative aspects individually and collectively. It's easy to forget what the games are all about...

San said...

Beautiful, beautiful post. I have never been athletic at all and I have never been one to watch televised sporting events. But the Olympics is so different and you have put your finger on the reason why.

I marvel at the genius of those bodies, the genius of that determination. I felt so proud of Ms. Vonn when she pushed through her pain to win her Gold Medal in the downhill skiing. And I saw her cringe when some of the other competitors crashed on that difficult slope. A competitor with a feel for others' pain--I admire that.