OK, I know it’s cheesey and politically incorrect “, but I am suffering from an Olympic-sized withdrawal from watching the Rio extravaganza. Three weeks ago I promised myself I wouldn’t spend much time watching them; after all, our summer is so very short, why waste it sitting inside watching the elite group perform the impossible. Besides, I should boycott watching them, after hearing all the controversy about Rio – corruption by the developers, unfair distribution of the Olympic costs and benefits, the deadly potential of the Zika virus, and the controversial ban of the Russian athletes.
I used to love watching the Olympics in the summer. When I was much younger, it was one my late summer motivators to get up and go for a run, do a workout, go for a bike ride, or just move. I remember spending many hours parked in front of the TV watching while I lumbered through my step-aerobics, or did a few extra steps on my non-electric treadmill. I was not delusional enough to believe that I was an athlete, but I did believe I could push myself to go just a little faster, further, stronger.
But this Olympics was going to be different. I am no spring chicken anymore. Although usually I am very happy to see young people succeed, I have to admit that sometimes the jealousy virus attacks me. Sometimes watching young people reach their dreams depresses rather than motivates me. On my down days, these people remind me of what will never be for me. That I will never be able to even jog any more thanks to my new enemy Arthritis. That I will most likely never have an opportunity to travel to these exciting places, and that I will never, ever, ever, ever, be young again. I don’t dwell on these feelings, but sometimes they spread like a bad virus oiling around and slowly sucking away the pleasure of a beautiful day. Yet somehow I found myself tuning into the opening ceremonies and watching with rapture as each new country marched into that huge stadium. Before I knew it, my fingers were flying to google searching to find out exactly where island nations such as Vanauta or Tongo were located. Before I even knew it, I was hooked. I have to admit sometimes I was envious of all these athletes – especially those who came from those amazing places I now know it’s pointless to even dream of visiting. The reality of being 55+ is that I can’t do it all; I can’t afford to see it all and do it all. Sigh. But I digress.
The Olympic virus had stung me and I was off to a two-week binge watch. The virus had won. Some evenings I wheedled my way downstairs to sit with my son and nudge him into watching some of the volleyball or swimming. We chatted about the teams, and guessed the medal counts. For the first time, because I so often ache from aging injuries, I looked at the athletes and started to realized how much they must really hurt after an event or during training. And I worried a little about how quickly all that extreme participation will impact them when they are 55+. Will they be suffering the slings and arrows of degeneration? Or will those superior efforts keep their bodies strong enough to fight against the ravages of age?
Other days I spent time by myself puttering around the house while the Olympics gushed out of each TV in the house. I channeled surfed to catch as many different versions as I could. I downloaded the apps and followed them faithfully, even though I was extremely annoyed by the awkward, non-user friendly CBC app that controlled most of the news. I followed the games on Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram. I liked the Canadian athletes, the medal winners, the media, and more. I even sometimes wrote posts and followed some of the specific athletes. I entered the goofy contests in the very rare chance I could win some Olympic swag ( Of course I didn’t win a thing!). I even won my own silver medal in a dragonboat competition (Hooray). I did it all. And in my heart, I felt a part of Team Canada, even though my head tells me I am being silly. These athletes are strangers whom I will never meet, nor ever even come close to their world, nor they to mine. Why should I feel like I know them, or even care? But I do.
Then suddenly it was Sunday and the virus was vanquished. No more medal counts, no more motivational stories, no more heart-breaking 4th place finishes, or spectacular medal wins. Today feels so ordinary and bland without the Olympics. It also seems like the death knoll for summer. The leaves have suddenly started to turn colour, the air quickly turns chilly at 8:30 at night, the air even feels different. The summer binge, topped off by the Olympics is over. My arthritis is back – and reminding me with a fury that I too am moving into autumn. All that is left is to mourn the loss, and wait for the sedate opportunities of fall to take over.