Sunday, 12 August 2012

A Marathon - Or A Sprint?

As with all my blogs, I do not possess the words to express myself adequately.

In recent days, this question has been asked: The Olympics have undoubtedly raised the spirits of the Nation; the successes of Team GB along with scenes of athletes, spectators, and the multitude of volunteers clearly enjoying these games has certainly brought the Nation closer together, and there is a very tangible sense of euphoria. But will this last? - or will it all fade away like the dying embers of our Olympic torch? Once the Games have finished, will the return to 'normality' shatter the sense of unity that we have all been experiencing?

You wouldn't find much argument if you were to agree with that supposition. We are still in the grip of economic hardship; the days will be getting shorter, the nights closing in. This late appearance of summer will all too quickly be replaced by colder autumn and then winter weather. Although undeniably successful and a magnificent spectacle, the Olympic games have also been a distraction for us all from the difficulties we all face day to day.

News reports infer that after the games finish, we will all return to our comparative insular ways, and the camaraderie that we have seen between strangers who have been united by these Olympics, will disappear. Images of boarded up homes, closed down shops, and various facts and figures highlighting just how bad the financial crisis still is (it hasn't gone away, kids) really brought home the message "back to reality folks!"

But do we have to loosen our grip on the wonderful spirit that has been evident over the past weeks - from the start of the torch relay in fact - so easily? The Olympics have brought us together as a Nation, you cannot doubt that. But I would argue that it has also shown the capacity we all have inside us to reach out and bond with each other.

This is where my possible naivety kicks in - if you are of a cold hearted cynical nature, look away now.

The unity we have all displayed was not created by the Olympics. It already existed within us, and the Olympics simply allowed us to express it. Normally we are all bogged down by the daily struggles we all endure - money worries, health worries, family issues, work issues, global issues. We are all swimming against a huge tide of difficulty. The media as a rule shows a never ending reel of misery and doom, and for all of us the future is uncertain and worrying. Of the many issues that face us all, many of them - most of them - are beyond our control.

But what is within our control is how we deal with these issues, and deal with each other. Now, make no mistake - it isn't easy. It's harder to reach out your hand to someone, than it is to withdraw it. It's harder to put yourself out, than it is to turn away.

And I am also aware that there are some people who chose to withdraw their hand, who chose to turn away. My girlfriend lives on a street where one resident just doesn't like anybody, and complains about music at 4:30 in the afternoon, about the noise made by a child bouncing on a small trampoline and, when asked by me if I could look in his front garden for a toy lost by my girlfriend's son that very day (the day after his birthday), refused to let me - and when I asked why was given the response "because I said so".

There will always be these people; we all know one person like this. The key, is to make them the minority in the world.

The feelings of unity and friendship and euphoria that have been experienced over the past few weeks need not disappear. Just because the games have ended, doesn't mean the goodwill must. The Olympics exceeded all expectation; Team GB's medal winning performances exceeded all expectation; the questions about whether London (and the UK) could host the Olympics, were answered with a deafening roar. So why not the question of whether the Olympic effect (that's my name for the surge of feelings etc. caused by the games) could continue after it all ends?

For my part, I say it can.

Today my girlfriend and I and her children, met up with a two very lovely friends and their two children. We met them at the holiday park they were staying - a static caravan park filled with people from all walks of life, all areas of the country, all races, all religions. The children have got it all sussed - in a matter of minutes they were off playing together on the climbing frames, and interacting with other children from other families there. There were a few "a boy threw sand at me" and "someone pushed me down the slide", but the rest of the time all the kids were a collage of joy and enjoyment.

And their unity made it easy for the parents to interact. When I had to admonish my girlfriend's three year old daughter for throwing sand at another little girl (a split second after I was telling my friend what a lovely little girl she is - typical!), I got chuckles and cheerful comments from parents who overheard. The fact I put a humorous comment at the end of the scolding helped - but we were united by common experience.

And that is my point; whether the Olympics was here or not is irrelevant; we are all united by a common experience: we exist. So at the most basic level, we are all linked. It doesn't matter what you earn, where you live, what religion you follow, who you voted for, what ethnicity you are, your sexual preference, the clothes you wear, how many limbs you have, and any other of the hundreds of ways we chose to label and define ourselves and others.

None of that matters.

The spirit of the games is the baton, we are all in the relay - pass it on.

Goodwill and unity is the Olympic Torch - keep the flame burning.

Life is hard - but we are all in this together. Let's keep together, don't separate. Don't pull your hand away, don't turn and walk away. Reach out your hand and step forward.

Don't burn all your goodwill in a sprint. Pace yourself, and make it a marathon!!

Thanks for reading.

These are purely my sentiments - apologies if you don't agree. And sorry for the lack of articulation

1 comment:

  1. Larry- I have sat reading this with tears streaming down my face because it has truly moved me. You have put into words (very eloquently I might add) exactly the feelings that I have about the whole Olympic experience. I know that I have been guilty at times of turning away when things have become too difficult but it is something that I have been trying to change in myself for some time.
    Don't ever give up writing Larry. You have a gift with words and your fantastic personality shines through them magnificently. I feel very lucky to have you as a friend in my life.