For the last 10 days I’ve spent many hours lounging on the couch, chowing down on chips and pop, watching the sports coverage and I’ve started to wonder, “What is it that makes these Olympic athletes different than me?”
I cannot think of a single reason I should not have become a contender for a medal in these Games. I can think of about a hundred. Starting with — I’m not prepared to go outside in winter or wear spandex pants in public.
But last night, as I sat watching vital in-depth coverage of “How the athletes’ personal hygiene practices contribute to their success,” I was suddenly struck by two thoughts.
First, if you find yourself watching TV about personal hygiene it means it’s really time to go to bed. But my other thought was this — the reason these athletes have achieved what the rest of us haven’t is not because they have superior talent and ability to the rest of us. They do, of course, but that’s not the reason. The main reason is they believe they can do it.
I have come to believe that what keeps most of us from realizing our dreams is a pesky thing called “sanity.” Sanity is what stops most of us from deciding, “Gosh it might be fun to strap on skis or throw ourselves onto a flimsy metal frame and go hurtling down icy vertical drops at 200,000 km/h.” Because of this, most of us see sanity as a good thing.
I’m not suggesting for a moment that high-performance athletes aren’t sane. With the exception of most snowboarders, of course. But I wonder if, for many of us, “sanity” is just another word for “believing we can’t actually get what we want.” Our brains, which really should limit themselves to finding cures for cancer and remembering where the channel changer got put, see a new idea and say, “Oh dear. This might not work out. I will not do this.” And so our response is not to try.
Maybe what makes an Olympic athlete different from the rest of us is that they listen to the desire of their heart before the warning in their head. So knowing this, am I likely to be gunning for a medal any time soon? Probably not. But when I do take on the dreams and challenges that life presents, hopefully I’ll be just like our amazing athletes. Entirely courageous and a little bit insane.