The vicious grip of superstition over people, and the general indifference in society to the plight of its victims, is both infuriating and baffling.
The XXX Olympic Games began yesterday in London. What fun! How I wished I was there to immerse in that unmatched spirit of celebration: World renowned athletes, elevated pulse rates, lofty dreams, unconquerable wills, and most importantly, a huge show of “games”! These “games” reinforce exactly how the whole world was meant to be right from the start – fun, festive, exciting and thrilling – and only sometimes, about winning. But somewhere, we lost our way. Why? Probably because most of us don’t know how to play!
Would you believe it, I have never played games in my entire life? The closest I ever came to playing a sport was basketball in fifth grade. Then, much to my horror, when I was elected as the one of the captains’ for Teresa House in eleventh grade, in charge of Sports, I almost died. Sports, did they say? Why would anyone pick someone like me who was terrified of playing? Nobody ever guessed the panic that struck my heart each day during ‘sports practice’ for the whole of those three dreadful months before Sports Day.
But I loved watching other people run, jump, throw javelin (I once tried my hand at javelin and was surprised to find that I was good at it!). But, in truth, I hated playing, so I let all those little glimpses of ability disappear over time. There was nothing romantic about playing under the scorching sun, getting pushed around by better athletes, and trying to score in the Heats. It was just too depressing. My weak frame supported my decision. My parents also contributed generously. They perpetually coddled me, kept me out of the sun, wrote ‘excuse’ notes for the PT periods, wrapped me up like a Mummy during winters, and blamed the teacher when I fainted on the field one time during a regular drill. So, by 18, sports or games of all kinds got relegated to my past life. I was so relieved.
But, as the years went by, I realized what a great crime my parents had committed. They had turned me into a sorry-assed, non-player – someone who was terrified of losing. I didn’t know the meaning of the word “game”. To me it was equivalent to being “prey”! Then, God showed me Steffi Graf on TV. She played and won Wimbledon each time like as if she was strolling in the park. I had an epiphany – I would have loved to play Tennis like her! Of course, it was too late at 24-something. So, instead, I got a job in advertising – replacing my sudden fascination for physical and mental fitness, training and discipline, and goals with draft beer and ad-talk.
What does this life-story have to do with “games”? EVERYTHING! If you have never learnt to play a sport or participated in “games”, you have actually never known the real thrill of pure sporting competition which gives the greatest high in life – even more than sex. If your miserable soul had ever had that singular experience of deepest humility then you could have turned any failure into divine insight. In short, the Olympic Creed (The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well) expresses what people like you and I could have gained through sport: A perspective on managing life’s biggest, and sometimes, most futile struggles. Just like the Olympic Games, Life really gives us all a chance to play our best game. It is a window to prove our will to excel, no matter how hard it is, or how lost and torn we are. At least now, in the spirit of a true Olympian, play your best game yet!
The writer may be contacted at: http://arpitabhawal.wordpress.com