By Sharna Goldseker
While waiting in the airport for a flight home from facilitating a family foundation retreat in Florida, checking headlines on my phone, I started to think about the phenomenon of the Olympics. Have you been watching the Olympics? On previous occasions, my mother had notified me weeks in advance, called to remind me the games were about to start, and sent me daily reports on the unbelievable feats the athletes had accomplished each day. Admittedly, the Gen Xer in me had been too cool to watch most years, frustrated by the lengthy commercials that I couldn’t fast forward, and consequently directed my attention to the supposedly more important events of the day.
This year, however, I have found myself feeling differently. I don’t know whether it’s because of fellow Maryland-er Michael Phelps swimming for his 20-something gold medal, or the chance to watch Brazil shine a spotlight on climate change (not to mention its history with slavery) on a global stage, but I have found myself intrigued. I not only have watched many nights as men and women tumbled, swam, ran and dove, but I even signed up for a New York Times journalist’s live text updates from Rio!
It wasn’t until I asked my cousin this question on Sunday night, however, ‘Have you been watching the Olympics?,’ that I found some insight into my own motivations for watching this year. Ana replied without hesitation, ‘I’m so moved by the “spirit of the games.'”
I wonder how many of us are hooked by the spirit of the games and how come? What are we looking for that feels fulfilled by the experience? What need does this satisfy for us? What problem does this solve? I don’t know whether it’s from watching the medalists receive gold, silver or bronze against the backdrop of their national anthems, or the “thanks Mom” commercials paying tribute to the countless hours moms drove their kids to practice, or seeing the champions from war-torn countries showing up under the banner of “independent” or “refugee” that moves me the most.
I do feel that as I look for meaning in my own life, as I try to spark it within my own family, and nurture it at work, it’s wonderful to find it in the games everyday. Here’s hoping the spirit of the games finds you whenever, wherever and however it may.