That Other Olympian

The hoopla will be over this Sunday: the victories celebrated; the losses explained. A wild heart-pounding ride indeed, for many of us have been watching the Games as if we were the ones on the slopes and ice. As if we were the Olympians and Para-Olympians.

Spellbinding though they are; the thrills and chills, the pride and frustrations are momentary stories; we take note, we celebrate or mourn… and move on. Nudged to remember Sochi a few months from now, we’ll mostly recall a slip, a power-play, a Junio-like moment of grace – moments that reflect our proclivity to take on the odds no matter the outcome.

Why then, four months after Nelson Mandela’s death, is our response so much more profound? What is it about his losses – and his ultimate triumph – that takes us beyond recollection and reflection into the stillness of the mind?

For there have been public figures in the last hundred years who were/are as far-seeing as Mandela. As stubborn. As tough. As principled. As judicious. As forgiving. But few have possessed all those qualities. That’s where the stillness lies. That one person embodied
them all.

Perhaps the only way to resolve the anomaly is to know that Mandela’s life signified each generation’s thrust to go one better… to leave behind a world more principled, more forgiving, and stronger than the one that was inherited.

Nelson Mandela represents that story – the arcing tale that’s been played out over the centuries about why we’re here and what we’re meant to do. And so we are stilled… awed by the possibilities. For each of us can be the bold one, the brave one, the one who betters the lives of others.

May we all find the ‘Mandela’ in us – no matter how great or small.

Long live his legacy.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us… ”
~ Marianne Williamson,  A Return to Love

(This quote has often been incorrectly attributed to Nelson Mandela in his 1994 Inauguration Speech – and therefore perhaps especially suitable here)


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