I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve been mesmerized by the past week’s dazzling display of intensity, passion, fury and talent by the world’s Olympic athletes. I’ve gasped at soccer, I’ve sprinted (or at least tried to!) on the Eliptical during the 10,000m dash and I’ve held my breath during synchronized diving. I’ve been on board sighing, yelling and cheering during the final seconds. They feel fantastic and devastating. But I guess the highs and, inevitably the lows, are why I’m along for the ride.
These athletes have given their whole lives to their sport. Not many of us can even hope to comprehend what that really looks like or feels like. I can’t even begin to imagine what they must experience with a win. Webster’s may need to come up with a new definition for elated because it doesn’t seem to cut it. And what many endure with a shattering loss is unfathomable.
That’s why Olympic trampolinist Jason Burnett’s words hit me so hard. In 2008 he won Silver in Beijing and then crashed in London 2012. The National Post caught his words:
“... in Beijing I had an incredible experience, and I came out on top…now I’ve got to experience the complete opposite of that. I’ve failed — miserably, some might say — but I get to experience both ends of the spectrum, and I think just the experience in itself is a good one to have.”
If only we could all treat our own disappointments with as much perspective. It’s not an easy task when we are caught up in the wins and losses of our own lives. We urge each other onward to outperform our best, and then ask ourselves to do better. We are inspired by the momentum of athletes’ discipline and passion. But to also inspire when we crash “miserably” – to declare to the world, or even just to ourselves, “Hey, I’m wide open to this whole life experience thing: the highs, the lows, the devastation and the glory.”
Now that for me is coming out on top.