When each returns home he or she again will be lauded for outstanding achievement. For many their medals will bring financial gains. Sporting apparel will be sold in their names — they might even be emblazoned on skis, hockey sticks or curling brooms. T.V. advertisements will show the winners over and over again in their short moment of triumph to persuade us to buy this or that product or subscribe to this or that service.
The athletes have worked hard, sacrificed much, suffered adversity and endured pain and exhaustion. It is rightful that for these efforts they should be rewarded. From their examples of persistence we can learn much.
However, for most of us we will never appear on an Olympic stand to receive medals and flowers. Nor will the flag be raised or the band played in our honour. We will be part of the millions that go through life with little or no fan fare to reward us for our achievements most of which are unnoticed and even mundane.
But we do medal, nevertheless. And these medals are of greater value than those of any or all Olympics.
Withholding anger in a situation when anger could easily be shown; showing patience in taxing times when patience wouldn’t ordinarily be shown; being calm and in control of emotions when the parameters of the moment dictate otherwise; persevering one more hour in overcoming a personal weakness that has nagged us for 20 years; continuing in kindness to someone who has never been kind to us; maintaining composure in times of severe trials; being a friend to the friendless; trying to see the reason for someone’s point of view when everyone knows it is ill thought out and ill expressed; making wise judgements about another but being careful about ascribing motives to him or her lest we reveal our own which are less than stellar and which we strive hard to hide. Finally, let us remember that in the absence of the band playing the national anthem, there will always be our own personal anthem beating in our own heart when we have successfully passed through one more of life’s tests or conquered one more weakness.
Let us ski on, shoot on and sweep on until we have mastered ourselves which is the greatest of all of life’s accomplishments.