The Olympics are over and The Tragically Hip has played (what could be) their last concert, ever. What a weekend.
I always feel a bit sad when the Olympics end because I really enjoy watching my country compete, and also love watching humans do super human things and just plain kind things. I am always encouraged when the IOC President ‘calls upon the youth of the world to assemble four years from now in whatever city and country to celebrate the Games of the XX Olympiad.’ I love that sentence. I love that we have a new goal, with a new timeline, and new opportunities. Yep, I love the Olympics.
I’m a fairly emotional person; a feeler is what a friend of mine would label me. Things, people, places, and moments mean something to me so this past Saturday held quite a lot of significance.
On Day 15 of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States of America, I watched The Tragically Hip perform a private concert in the Athletes Village. That was the one and only time I saw The Hip, as they are affectionately known, perform live. Fourteen years later on Day 15 of the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I watched The Hip play for all Canadians.
Odd. Emotional. Good. Hard. Important.
I don’t really remember the concert details that night 14 years ago in the Village except for a few stand-out moments:
- I remember being with my other Canadian friends.
- I remember being amongst our finest athletes.
- I remember seeing someone I thought I’d never lay eyes on again (or had certainly hoped I never would) across the buffet table.
- I remember singing O’Canada (our national anthem) to coax the band back out onto stage for an encore, and I remember, fondly, that when they came back out they finished the anthem with us.
Profound. Memorable. Awesome. Solidarity.
There is something about belonging that is so immensely comforting; I think all humans crave it on a level we rarely speak about. I think that is one of the things that is magnetic about the Olympic Games – it creates the opportunity to be together, to be linked, to have a common goal, and to feel like we are all one collective whole. Or as the commentator Nigel Reed exclaimed when our women’s national team won bronze in soccer, “Oh, Canada! You Big Red Beauty you!”
Us. One Big Red Beauty. Canada.
The things we champion in the Olympic games are definitely medals, but a very close second to that, and maybe first for some, is kindness. We love it when people give up something for themselves to make it better for someone else, or when a human being displays an effort so absolute we are awe struck, even when they lose. Or when we cheer loudly – really loudly – for the Refugee team because we want them to know they matter, that they are seen, that they belong. Because we all know what it feels like to not belong. And let’s face it, life is plenty hard enough as it is, being ‘country-less’ would only add to their pile. So we cheer.
What do we do at work or at home to help people belong? Do we include them or silo them? Are we using the words ‘we’ and ‘us’ instead of ‘me’ and ‘I’? Are we ensuring they know that we support them because they try, not because they win? Do we embrace the ones left out, the new ones, the ones who think differently than we do? Do we stop what we are doing to pay attention to their effort? Do we show kindness? Are we examples? Do we cheer?
I read so many posts this past weekend expressing how Canadian people felt, how proud they were, and how the unity under our flag was an experience like none other. Of course I agree. I mean, our national public broadcaster dedicated time, space, money and resources to a rock band so that the country could watch them perform together. Who does that? We do, us, Canada, the ‘Big Red Beauty’, we do. And we LOVE that we do.
One nation. One night. One band. One man. The Hip.
Together. Patriotic. Same.
So what is my point? My point is that we champion people in the Olympics or people who changed the way we saw the world or enhanced a moment for us with music or victory. If that kind of thing happened everyday then it would inevitably lose its shiny appeal, but I have to believe that we, as a people, as a nation can simply – be better to each other, be kinder, be more Canadian. I have to believe that we can bring that point of view into our work places and our homes, that instead of judging people as weird, we embrace them as wonderful – that we learn to appreciate the struggle they face with interpreting their gift because they see and experience the world differently.
Do you have to be a rockstar for people to love your weirdness? Do you have to be an Olympian to show your greatness? Your kindness? Do you need better examples to be your better self? What will move you from thinking about it, to doing it, to being it?
Because what we all know, and have all seen dozens of times is that kindness wins, every-time.
Different. Unfiltered. Beautiful.
In my daily journaling I found this quote and couldn’t help but believe it was meant to be included in this blog.
You will find as you look back on your life that the moments that stand out above everything else are the moments when you have done things in a spirit of love.– Henry Drummond