Monday, August 30, 2004
In 1996, there was a song introduced at the Opening Ceremonies of the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games and was artfully sung by Celine Dion. It's title: "The Power of the Dream." Within the lyrics are a few stanzas I'd like to share with you today:
If you happen to watch any of the coverage of the Games of the 28th Olympiad, you would have witnessed this very stanza birthed into life by a myriad of lives and their journey from all corners of the earth. It was not so much whether or not an athlete medalled at the Olympic Games, but rather the sacrifice and determination he/she exuded in just getting to the Games in the first place. There were runners and cyclists that fell crying by the wayside while others came miraculously from behind to "nail" their final dive, final sprint heat or final basket and capture a medal. There were those that were expected to medal and did and those that fell short of their and/or their country's expectations. And there were those - that make the Games exciting - that were only expected to represent their country but surprised their country by coming home with a medal. Stories and journeys... of heartache and triumph... of sacrifice and hope... coming together for two weeks under the glorious Athens sun.
Probably only the athletes of these Games will remember the vividly the details of 28th Olympiad, as it should be. And as it should be, the Games also will have inspired a whole new generation of millions who tuned in to watch the youth of world gather in peaceful competition. They will leave their living room to sign up for swim lessons, practice their three-point shot and run just a little faster down their neighborhood sidewalk. And, as it should be.
Each of us can easily dismiss the Olympic Games with reasons shrouded in doping, cheating, undue national pressure, commercialism, etc. But for a young man at the age of 14, captivated by Bruce Jenner's win of the decathlon, the Games for me will always be a shining example of the struggle between heart and fate. Does one succeed primarily by the smiling faces of Fate or is there more? Does the Creator methodically stick His/Her finger into human affairs and predestine one over another, whether in world affairs or world athletic competition? In this life, we may never know. But one thing is for sure, I have witnessed (as you have) some pretty extraordinary feats in this life from some seemingly ordinary persons. In speaking with them as to their accomplishment, the overwhelming majority simply stated that (1) they envisioned their goal and outcome, (2) they were determined to see it through - win or lose, and (3) they decided from the beginning that NOTHING was going to stop them.
They envisioned their goal and outcome - Your mind will take you far
They were determined to see it through - win or lose - The rest is just your heart
They decided from the beginning that NOTHING was going to stop them - You'll find your fate is all your own creation
There are many times in each of our lives where we have been and will be called to put forth an Olympic effort; not an effort of athletic skill possibly, but an effort that calls for more than just natural and personal talent - but an effort of the heart. And not just a one-time effort but one that is sustained, day in and day out. Efforts as parent, partner, teacher, friend, role model. We each are called to put forth these efforts that come from the heart, with very little recognition, medals or endorsements. It is these efforts, my friend, that make you important. It is these efforts that make you a hero.
The 2004 Summer Olympic Games have sadly come to a close but our races and games continue. There will be days that we're expected to medal and we do. And there will be days when we're only expected to simply show up but then we surprise ourselves and others by coming home with the gold. Intertwined in all these days and efforts, you will most likely find that your fate is all your own creation.
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