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Day 43: A Gathering of Champions

“If you want to take your mission in life to the next level, if you’re stuck and you don’t know how to rise, don’t look outside yourself. Look inside. Don’t let your fears keep you mired in the crowd. Abolish your fears and raise your commitment level to the point of no return, and I guarantee you that the Champion within will burst forth to propel you toward victory.” -Bruce Jenner

Watching the opening ceremony for the winter Olympics tonight and learning of the tragic death of one of the athletes on a practice run brings the whole event into sharp focus. The athletes make it all look so easy and the television coverage usually turns their struggles into something that looks like a movie script. The truth of it, I think is deeply reflected in the fearless effort and the relentless persistence towards excellence that is the lives of these champions.

Let’s face it, all of the people competing in the Olympics are champions in their own right, whether they come in first or last, often decided by seconds, they have chosen a dream, and day after day, they push themselves not just to build their skills but to strengthen their will. In the end, when most of us wouldn’t get up again, it is their will that sets them apart. They strive to win, yet the winning is defined by the internal as much and maybe even more than the external.

Sports champions get a lot of attention in this life. It makes sense when you consider how they bend the natural laws of physics to their will. One only needs to watch Roger Federer when he is in top form. He accomplishes the impossible and makes it looks easy.

The same goes for these Olympic champions, flying through the air, whilst any of us mere mortals would come crashing to the ground. It is one of the true marvels of human life to have the chance to bear witness and pay homage to those of us who dream big and achieve, not only for themselves, but in this Olympic arena for everyone in their own nation.

Although most of us can’t imagine the intensity and devotion that all of these athletes practice, we can strive to honor their spirit by pursuing our own dreams. Wilfred Peterson once wrote “Champion the right to be yourself; dare to be different and to set your own pattern; live your own life and follow your own star.” In the next few weeks, as I watch, (holding my breath), these fellow humans push themselves to the edge of their own capacity, I want to respect their courage and will. I want to honor the highest part of what it is to be human by finding some measure of their devotion for my own quest. For what is a positivity quest with out the urge to champion ourselves.