So now I’m addicted to the Olympics. I look forward to watching it every evening in prime time, and if something takes me away, I make sure to set my DVR. I’ve mastered the art of getting onto Facebook without reading the spoiler online news headlines announcing who took gold the day before. (It’s kind of like looking at 3-D art. As Kramer says, you have to look without actually looking, kind of let your eyes blur and lose focus, which granted, is probably way easier for me.) I’ve determined that figure skating is my favorite winter sport, and ice dancing is my favorite form of figure skating.
The reason being, and contradictory to my last post, I’m a big chicken. Sitting through all those death-defying, injury-causing competitions leaves me primed for a little ballet on ice. And when the skating involves triple lutz toe loops and quadruple axel sow-cows (yes, I just made that up and it’s probably misspelled) then I’m gasping out loud and crossing my fingers that the skater lands it all without incident. I much prefer a graceful couple waltzing around the rink to beautiful music and barely leaving the ground. Then I can eat my Twizzlers in peace, not choke on them.
Yes, I biked Europe all by myself, and yes, that was me at the Running of the Bulls. But make no mistake about it — I would never travel alone like that in the States. And I just watched people run with bulls. I didn’t take part in it. I’m not stupid. I’m not going to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.
Which brings me to the really gutsy people like skydivers and tightrope walkers who don’t use nets. During the Olympics, I’ve been watching all these crazy sports where people dive head first onto a track of ice to travel over 80 miles an hour or run their skis over rails before launching their bodies stories into the air to make multiple flips. And I’ve been thinking, it all seems a little … well, nuts. I mean, the human knee is not designed to absorb the repetitive shock of moguls. And rails aren’t designed for snow skis. Of course they’re not, they’re handrails.
Maybe, having already defied death, I’ve seen a little too much of the flip side — the results of tragic accidents from extreme sports. I’ve seen behind the curtain and can tell you, accidents do happen. I know the argument. I assume a much greater risk riding in a car than jumping out of a plane or into a bobsled. Maybe the difference is between necessary risk and unnecessary risk. I can’t avoid being in a car from time to time, but I can certainly stay out of bobsleds. So I’ll change last week’s life theme from “life is short” to “life is precious.”
But I don’t want to be a dream squasher. I watch these Olympic back stories about how the favorite at slopestyle skiing was doing backflips off the couch at the age of five and wonder — is this what he was born to do? I’m all for following your dream. I guess I’m just lucky my dream involves a computer and a desk. And both feet planted firmly on the ground.
I found the answer to this conundrum of my own making in a movie, of all places. Some of my valentine girlfriends came over Friday night to watch the movie Rush. (It gets a big thumbs up from me, for what it’s worth.) In it, two rivals in the world of race car driving, battle it out through life’s ups and downs. Talk about an extreme sport! Their two approaches are night and day, though. And perfectly define the difference of acceptable risk. One man is a playboy, the daredevil, ready to face death. He’s full of passion for living and ready to accept any risk to live on the edge. The other will accept a certain percentage of risk, but not one percentage more. Neither is right or wrong. They are simply adults choosing to live life as a bright flame or in a slow, controlled burn.
And that one word — adults — describes the difference for me between those character portrayals and some Olympic contenders. At 19, some Sochi athletes haven’t been on the planet long enough to survive a bad fashion trend let alone decide what life risks he or she is willing to take! More likely, for them it’s about ego and invincibility. And who can blame them? They’re teenagers! Did you see that Swedish kid with the dreds and the quad extra large pants? Supposedly, he was skiing down the mountain with an egg in his pocket. I say he should’ve spent a little less time worrying about breaking that egg and a little more time wondering how to keep his baggy pants from dropping to his ankles on the somersaults. Seriously, he lost them during training. It’s on You Tube if you don’t believe me. After that, he appeared to have acquired suspenders, but they looked quad extra large too, so I’m not sure how much they actually accomplished.
So that’s the food for thought I give you to mull over this week as the Olympics continue. If you’re reading this on Sunday, I’m excited. More twizzles tonight. Ice dancing’s on and there’s half a bag of Twizzlers in the kitchen.