My family was watching the Olympics when a young lady, Ty Walker, was getting ready for the snowboard slopestyle event. Walker injured her heel a few days earlier during practice and spent hours soaking her foot in ice so she could compete in the qualifying event.
After hearing a brief story about her, one of our kids exclaimed, “Sixteen years old! What have I been doing with my life?” That exclamation is a realization and appreciation of the long, hard work Ty Walker has invested to be where she is. She, my daughter, is now very aware that if she wants to do anything special in life, she needs to get started.
This is why I am thankful for the Olympics. As we watch these incredible athletes and their stories behind the quest for the gold medal, we understand their journey, and feel inspire to do great things as well.
We are attracted to their physical challenges. They captivate us with their strained and determined faces as they jump, twirl, run, and ski. Their bodies pushing and contorting, doing things that seem impossible that has taken them hours and years of practice. Under tremendous pressure they performed, and we watch on, cheered, enthralled by emotions. We grunted and hollered at the television screen as if they can hear us. If they win we celebrate with them, high-fiving each other. If they lose, we hurt with them, for them. We are living vicariously through them, feeling the highs and lows of their experience.
But more invaluable and laudable is the fact that they inspire us without knowing. And for that, I adore and appreciate them. It isn’t their purpose. Their purpose is to attain a goal they set for themselves. By living their lives, working toward their dreams, pursuing their own happiness, they bring us along on their endeavor, and more admirably, encouraging us to pursue our own dream.
Then I started to think about other achievers who reached their own goals: the scientists, engineers, artists, entrepreneurs and many others. They also struggled, failed, and succeeded. Their work places are not on the ski slopes or ice rinks, but in a garage, office, lab, or out in a field somewhere. But they too have endured and sacrificed. They may not win medals or trophies but they work toward their goals just the same.
Some of their accomplishments end up for the betterment of the world such as medicines, technologies, and transportation to name a few. Just look around, all the comfort of life are developed, created, engineered by someone whose effort we do not see or think about. Understandably, it is hardly entertaining to watching a scientist make an entry on his data table. We nevertheless have benefited. These are also our heroes, the quiet ones. No limelight, no interviews, just living the life they are given, fulfilling their own dreams and end up improving the lives of others.
So thank you all achievers who know and are living the truth — all great things come with great effort, personal aspiration and sacrifice. To the Olympic athletes, thank you for sharing and displaying your work for the world to see what it takes. My children are moved by your personal stories of trials and tribulations, of courage and determination. They see you strive, witness your disappointment and heartaches; celebrate your victories; and most of all, are encouraged by your actions.
In an interview about her injury, Walker said, “I got a big shot of Novocaine. I hate needles, I can’t handle them, so it wasn’t a great experience, but it was worth it, because I got to take my run at the Olympics.”
I wonder how many people Ty Walker has unknowingly inspired by her statement. No matter, that wasn’t her purpose.