Okay, normally, I'm not really all that into sports. They just don't hold my interest. So as the hype has been growing all summer about the Beijing Olympics, my reaction was pretty much, "So?" I "outgrew" the Olympics long ago -- about the same time McDonalds stopped doing their Olympics promotion where you could win free stuff for every medal the US got in a certain sport. Last night, I was looking forward to curling up and watching new episodes of Monk and Psych, maybe doing a little reading, and that was about it. Then I noticed that the opening ceremony of the Olympics was about to start. My sis and I were both like, "What the heck? It'll be pretty to watch."
Pretty doesn't even begin to cover it. What the Chinese did was put on an extravaganza like I've never seen before with 2008 drums that lit when struck, 2008 tai chi masters doing their thing, dancers, amazing animation, flying people, and more. It was breathtaking, awe-inspiring. More than once my sis and I were both in tears at the majesty of what we were witnessing. Even the parade of nations was full of beauty -- from the various uniforms (LOVED the Finland dresses!) to the inspirational stories, especially the one about the little boy accompanying Chinese flag-bearer Yao Ming. Nine-year-old Lin Hao is a survivor of China's recent devastating earthquake. He was in school when the quake hit. He managed to pull himself from the rubble and then went back to pull two of his classmates to safety. Of the 30 children in his class, only 10 survived the quake. When asked why he had gone back after saving himself, Lin Hao told reporters that he was a class safety monitor and it was his job to make sure the people in his class were safe. Watching him march beside Yao Ming (and then being held up by Ming during the torch lighting so he could see what was going on) was one of those moments that may stick with me forever. Just when you think this world is going to hell, you hear a story like that and remember what courage really is.
So maybe I just might catch a little bit of the Olympics over the next couple weeks. Hearing the stories about some of these athletes reminded me that this is about more than sports. It's about making dreams come true, even if you're the only person on your country's team and have no chance of even touching a medal. I just have to make sure to stock up on Kleenex.