I’ve been watching the 23rd Olympic Winter Games being held in PyeongChang, South Korea. I love seeing the athletes’ dedication and drive to excel in their sport. Watching them risk everything to go for the gold is inspiring, but I also noticed a tad bit of envy.
It’s not that I long to be an expert skier or ice skater. Although I dabbled in both growing up in the heart of Montana ski-country, I’m not passionate about either activity. Neither am I fond of all that cold snow and ice. That’s probably why I moved to a more temperate climate decades ago and am still trying to get warm!
Since the envy creeping into my psyche doesn’t appear to be about the sports themselves, I’ve been analyzing its origin. It’s subtle, but I managed to pinpoint it during the women’s giant slalom. It was as Mikaela Shiffrin celebrated her gold, and I celebrated with her, that I became aware of activity in another lobe of my brain.
It started thinking about how much it costs for ski gear and lift tickets, not to mention private coaches. In short order it concluded only rich people can be Olympians. Then, when the camera showed Mikaela’s mom and dad, it whispered something in my ear. “No wonder those athletes can achieve their dreams,” it whined. “They have super supportive and involved parents!”
Then, instead of being excited and happy for all the giant slalom medalists, I started to feel sad for everyone else. After all, if the only way a person can achieve their dreams is by being born into an uber-rich, uber-supportive family, the majority of us end up automatically disqualified at birth.
Obviously, this was a depressing thought. I didn’t like the path of envy this lobe was leading me down, so I suggested maybe that’s why we also have the Summer Olympics. At least there we can see people running races with nothing more than a good pair of shoes.
They don’t have to rich. They don’t even need supportive parents. In fact, for all we know, their love for the sport could have come from a desire to distance themselves from an unhappy home.
Of course, I don’t want that to be the case. I just don’t want the Olympic Games to be for the elite few who happened to be born into privileged circumstances. I want them to be for us all.
Upon reflection, maybe they are. Maybe seeing Mikaela Shiffrin win the gold just made me feel small and insignificant, and I was merely looking for someone or something to blame. But that’s not how I want to experience the Olympics.
Instead, I want to continue to believe Olympic athletes are not unlike myself. We may be on different paths, with very different workout regimens, but the goal remains the same. We both want to be the best we can be!
Like Mikaela, I must carry my own vision into the future until it becomes my future. No one else can do it for me. There may be those who come along side me and cheer me on, but what I do with the life I’ve been given is up to me.
We don’t have to be Olympians to be our best and achieve our dreams. All we have to be is courageous and determined, willing to embrace everything in our present reality as being absolutely essential to our success. Within that paradigm there is no place for envy.
When we see everything as golden, nothing can stop us from experiencing the thrill of going for the gold in our own lives . . . and letting it lead us wherever it may!
“Envy is the most stupid of vices, for there is no single advantage to be gained from it.” ~ Honoré de Balzac