by Brenda Black
Wipe outs, crashes, skids, tumbles, collisions, and flat out nasty wrecks litter the snowy path to winter Olympic finish lines and “10's”. Many will have in common the brutal and bruised trade marks of an athlete in pursuit of perfection. Few will actually stand at the top of the podium. What could possibly be worth the pain? Why would anyone go through the rigors of training for one fleeting moment of fame? For each the answer will be unique.
Some athletes thrive on the rush of bitter cold air slapping their faces as they become one with the mountain and their ski boots. Others will say they were born to compete. Still many will claim their bent for pain and performance as a divine calling. The winners get the chance to tell the world why they beat their bodies into submission for the sake of a dangling medal and the spotlight. Most just return home to face the gym, the rink, the slopes again, and clamor to discover the secret ingredient of an Olympian gold medalist.
You don't have to travel across the globe to see that same spirit. It dwells in the hearts of contenders in all walks of life, not just Olympians. I've met hundreds of people in my lifetime who go the extra mile, give it their all and ever strive to improve at what they do. I've seen people in suit coats as well as sweat pants laboring intensely and bringing their best game. I've watched men in the pulpit live sacrificially to win the ultimate prize as well as witnessed students stay up all night to ace a more temporal final exam.
It's the human spirit that pushes us to press on. It's competition that fuels the desire to get ahead of the pack and not look back. And dangling in front of us, seemingly always out of reach, is the ultimate end that makes the journey worth every painful inch. The reward of a job well done.
I find the human spirit fascinating, the human mind mesmerizing and the human body remarkable when each is used to its full potential. Ironically, every one of us houses within immensely more than we ever utilize. And it takes the example of supreme athletes to awaken us to our own slumbering capabilities.
When we apply all of the God-given talents, sometimes we'll end up crossing the finish line in first. Other times, we'll go home with nothing but our efforts for a trophy. But always, the greatest satisfaction will be in knowing that we persevered and finished strong, no matter where we placed or how long it took.
May the Olympic spirit propel each of us to greater heights in our day to day lives. If we tap in to the talent within, reach deep for the resolve to be all we were born, called and prepared to be, there's no telling where such determination might take us. Whether you watched marathon broadcasts or visually nibbled on internet highlights; no matter whether you cheered for a single home-town hero or celebrated every champion, hopefully you felt anew the energy of endurance, the victory of fortitude.
The human spirit: Catch it, feed it and do something with it for good!