There’s something about the Olympics.
They’ve been on consistently, save for a random afternoon binge on The Office, since the Opening Ceremonies. I’ve cried more times than I can count. I was crying by 8:01 PM on that first night. It doesn’t matter which country wins the gold; I cry. The commercials make me cry, especially that peanut butter and jelly one. I’m a sucker for a story.
But there’s something else about the Olympics.
Maybe it’s the teenager who overslept because he stayed up too late watching a comedy, won gold, and then dropped the f-bomb on a national network. Maybe it’s all the teenagers. Maybe, even more, it’s the 30-something athletes accomplishing all these big things while I sit on my couch, jaw dropped, mouth agape.
In my late 20s, a woman I respect for many different reasons marveled at my success. “Look at all you’ve done! And you’re so young.”
I’m just over two months away from 37, my late 30s. Taking most things into consideration, I’m okay with that age. I have accomplished a lot. I’ve won awards. I’ve stood on stages. I’ve done things I couldn’t have imagined doing even in my late 20s, let alone my teens.
But, I’m also not where I thought I would be by now.
I haven’t written the book.
I’m running a lot slower than I was running just two years ago.
My daughter no longer speaks to me.
To boot, my high school decided to have a multi-class reunion this coming fall, thus moving up my 20th reunion by one year. I thought I had one full year to get into the physical shape I wanted to be in upon seeing these people for the first time since our 10th. Nope. Seven months. Sigh.
These athletes, all at the very top of their game, both inspire me and leave me feeling like I’m lacking on eleven different levels. Oh? You just accomplished the top of your game at the age of 17? Cool, cool. I’m more than twice your age and I’m not really sure what I want to be when I grow up. I’m not sure I want to tell the stories I need to tell to write the story that needs to be written. I’m not sure I can do this, not sure I can stand up to the pressure.
But then, those USA women fight and fight and fight, not just in that amazing game but for years against the other equally amazing team. They lost. And they lost. And they lost. And they lost. And then they fought as hard as they could. Two shootouts. And the gold. The winner. The best.
The truth is that I don’t need to the best, the winner. I just need to do the thing. To write the book. It doesn’t need to be a best seller; it just needs to be written. And I’m okay with that when it comes to my running: I know I’m never going to win a marathon, a half marathon, not even a 5K. I’m teetering on not even beating my previous course record for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon which was my only goal for this year’s race. But I’m still going to do it.
So why not the book?
I don’t know.
But there’s something about the Olympics that make me believe. I opened the file the other day. I deleted some words. I added some other words. I’ve been here before. I might be here again.
But I know this: These athletes are doing more than winning medals. They’re inspiring us all.