Letting Go x Forever

I should know better by now, more than 20 years later, but I don’t. I still reel at the thought that someone I love more than my own breath will be standing precisely in harm’s way – and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

I should be calmer in my heart. I should learnImage from the years of watching her defeat scary inner demons and slay figurative fire-breathing dragons. I should know better than to second-guess her hard won wisdom about her own life. Maybe, somewhere buried in my DNA, I do. But it’s not surfacing quickly enough for my liking. I’m a woman. A mother. I nurture and worry. That’s my natural state.

I tell myself this has nothing to do with letting her go. I’ve already done that. She’s not a child, a teenager or even a reckless adult. If anyone can take care of herself and those in her path, it’s her. In one of those situations where you have to trust someone to lead you through the jungle blindfolded, she’s the one I would trust to lead me. She would fend off snakes, native tribes and gorillas with swoops of courage, and I would make it safely to the other side – all because of her moxie. I want her beside me in earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and the apocalypse. No one else I know has her skills. No one.

Having said all that, I’m her mom. And she’s going to jump on a bicycle and ride it for many hundreds of miles and do what she’s been longing and planning to do for years. And suddenly I feel like she’s 16 again and calling to tell me she’s hitchhiking to San Francisco and will be in touch when she can (and in case you’re wondering, that really happened).

The questions pour out of my heart and onto the page: Why can’t I just have her safely by my side forever? Why do things have to get all tangled up and people make decisions that might hurt them? Why does someone living out a dream have to be so hard to watch? I know the answers. Because when you allow yourself to love someone, that’s what happens. What also happens is, if you want someone to stay in your life, you don’t fight it.

So, today when I mused about her upcoming trip the tears came hot and fast even though I’ve known about this adventure for months. It has nothing to do with missing her for the weeks she’s away (I don’t want to talk about that). It’s about these babies of mine living their own lives. When will this whole mommy merry-go-round stop? Here’s the answer: Never. And that’s why it really IS about letting go, times infinity.

I adore every socks-knitting, tattooed, Sherlock-loving, animal-mommying, pierced, brilliant blue-eyed, scrunched up nose, tip-toe when she walks, long wavy hair, piano playing, accordion shredding, pig-tail wearing, costume making, real food eating, techno music passionate, calculated risk taking, songwriting, pie making, life-gobbling, clear soprano part of her.

It’s the adoration, the trusting her at any cost, that makes this bearable. So for those reasons I will be her cheerleader. I will banish choking doubt and fear.

I will also be on the next plane if she needs me for any reason.

Tiny Gratefuls

Published in the Ferndale Record, November 27, 2013

November, in her chilly, stormy glory, ends up being about gratitude. Like friends and random people I don’t know on Facebook, I’m grateful for the gifts of life, home and family. Following is a bit of minutiae that also keeps my happy motor running.

I’m thankful that spiders can’t fly. I’m thankful for Cruisin’ Coffee’s chocolate nonfat yogurt shakes, with no whipped cream, an extra shot of chocolate, and one of those dome-shaped lids.

I’m thankful that four rolls of toilet paper at Rite Aid are only 88 cents on Tuesdays, and that two tiny loaves of banana bread at the Starbucks’ drive thru total $5.33.

I’m grateful for people you don’t know who pay you a compliment out of nowhere, and for grocery checkers who aren’t compelled to make small talk while scanning my items.

I love that the universe is so much bigger than me and that I don’t understand everything yet, leaving me with a constant source of untapped knowledge to break into. I’m thankful for friends who inspire me to be a better person.

I’m sincerely thankful for an honest mechanic who not only knows how to fix my car, but gives me a fair deal – every time, and I’m grateful that the seven years I wore braces really straightened my teeth – forever.

I’m thankful for cinnamon-flavored dental floss, and that because I live alone I don’t have to clean up my mess or do the dishes everyday. I’m thankful I can go to bed as early as I want, which one night not long ago was 6:30pm.

I appreciate people who smile with acknowledgment when I wave them into traffic. I’m thankful for those flower baskets hanging downtown Ferndale every spring and summer, and for the guy in the little water truck that keeps them hydrated and looking spectacular.

I’m thankful that Stephen Colbert, his over-the-top pundit character and talented writers come up with brilliance that makes me laugh, sometimes to the point of tears. I’m also thankful for artists and musicians who know how to string words, sounds and images together, making my brain travel into places it normally wouldn’t go.

I’m thankful I bought gas for my car at $2.99 per gallon last week, and that at work, a kind person gave me a box of chocolate covered mint patties. I’m grateful for mornings when I can sleep in until I wake up naturally, and for BelleWood Acres apple cider.

I love that when I lay in my bed I can see the river gurgling by and tall trees waving to me in the breeze. I’m also thankful for people who remember birthdays and are not afraid to venture a little past silly – sometimes way past.

I’m thankful for these qualities in an individual: Quick wit, a sincere listening ear, and someone who gets my obscure movie and TV references. For instance, when I say I “crossed the streams,” and another person recognizes it as a line from Ghostbusters, I’ve discovered a kindred soul.

Thankfulness for tiny things makes up my days, which, I suppose, makes it pretty significant. But then, gratitude has a clever way of creating a joyous life, which is what most of us want. And there’s nothing unimportant about that.

Running For My Life

Published in the Ferndale Record, October 30, 2013

Part of being a grown-up is getting real. It’s finally knowing, for the first time, that while there are things you’ve always dreamed of doing, you will probably not do all of them. It’s also realizing there are things you must do, and that you’ll find a way to accomplish them because you can’t not do them.

For example, I’m an adult onset runner. When my children were young, I developed a love for running and what it does for my spirit, body and mind. But years, responsibilities and bad habits got in the way. I started and stopped. I read books. I yearned. I watched the Olympics. I went to the gym. I danced, lifted weights and learned to kick box, but I didn’t run. I was like everyone else with good intentions but little resolve.

I saw people of all shapes and ages running and something reached within and seized my essence—every single time. It wasn’t just, “Wow. Good for her!” or, “Look at that guy go,” it was tactile, moving and emotional. It sliced into my soul with the impression, “I have to do that.”

This was followed immediately with thoughts like, “You’re too old.” “Even if you start now, you’ll never be that good or fast,” or the subtle but blistering, “You’ve never followed through before and you never will.”

Then something shifted inside. I knew it was time, and that despite fear, lingering doubt and lack of natural ability, I had to find a way to run. Ten years ago I invested in a treadmill. It survived my recent purging of cherished household items, and a few months ago I decided to employ it on a regular basis and haven’t looked back.

I’ve started to remember what focus, determination and ongoing commitment does to my body and life. But this time it’s not about courage, discipline, weight loss, doing it for another person, strict denial or a reward at the end. It’s because I have to do it, and I’ve finally given into whatever it is that calls to me about running.

So, now I run. Very slowly. I am turtle and slug slow. The only record I’ll shatter will be the one for the most heavy-footed and plodding participant. I run slower than most people walk. I’ll never be a world-class athlete, I don’t see myself as a driven competitor, and to get what I want out of this, I don’t have to be either. I simply have to be willing, and this time, I am.

I’m careful about what I eat during the day not because I’m afraid of unwanted pounds, but because I want to run well when I come home from work. I’ve turned that proverbial corner, not because of fear, but because of deep want.

In his book, “Run or Die,” Kilian Jornet says, “It’s what we can’t believe will ever happen… and yet it is what finally happens. It is as if something in our unconscious is constantly telling us that it is impossible, that it would be too wonderful, too brilliant, too incredible for it to become reality. And when you cross the line, when you look behind and see that it is for real, that you are flesh and blood, and that what seemed possible only in dreams has become real, you realize that that is the real victory.”

Maybe it’s my milestone birthday approaching, but I doubt it. I think it’s more about giving into the genuine desires of my heart and not worrying about how I might look doing it. It’s that sweet gravy that comes with age and experience.

And if I’m hit by a bus tomorrow and never walk again, I can say I was a runner. Because I am.

Sometimes The Best Life Is Standing Right In Front Of You

Published in the Ferndale Record, September 25, 2013

Not long ago I overheard a parent telling her child what was going to happen that day. It was something like, “First you go to karate. Then the birthday party, then we’ll leave for Seattle, stay at Grandma’s and go to the zoo tomorrow and then you and Dad will go to the Sounders game while Jenny and I go shopping.”

This sounds like a pretty good time, right? Isn’t life supposed to be lived? Shouldn’t we expose our children to every positive thing there is to do in the world? Because this is my column and my opinion, here goes: Not necessarily.

Overscheduled lives can be good, but are rarely best. A lot can be accomplished, learned and integrated, but at what cost? I claim this because of not only what I currently see, but because of what I’ve experienced. What’s the best life?

If you believe more is best, then by all means, do all of it. Ride the ferry, take in every sporting event and concert that looks interesting, attend all birthday parties you’re invited to, crash some you’re not, and celebrate your own with over-the-top flair. Let kids take piano, dance and scuba diving lessons. Make sure they get homework done, take showers, clean their rooms and learn how to cook dinner and do laundry.

Go to the movies, ride horses, sign them up for the chess and glee clubs. Pick your kid up after school and deliver him to the dentist for that pesky cavity that needs to be filled and then make sure he gets home on time to do evening chores. There’s nothing wrong with any of this. But the truth is, as someone else once said, more isn’t always better: sometimes it’s just more.

Indulge me in a little retrospect, OK? If you choose more, memorize everything. Look at those faces, those hands, and those eyes. Touch those chubby little-baby cheeks and rumple your fingers through that silky, curly teenage hair. Don’t forget even a moment of it, because it’s here and gone, and while you’re living, working hard, running fast and trying to make a good life for your child, don’t forget that the best life is often standing right in front of you, and would like just a little bit of you and your time—even ahead of Disneyland and play dates. A wise man once said: “Love is spelled T-I-M-E.”

Last week, two of my children surprised me at work, each on different days. I remembered (again) how much I love those faces, especially when I don’t see them everyday.

Sometimes, just seeing these grownups who were once children and teenagers has sustained me, kept me standing upright when life bore down hard. Sometimes, the joy of seeing one of them unexpectedly brings me to tears. But most often, they remind me that I’m connected to a past, present and future in tangible and intangible ways and that relationships, and what it takes to maintain them, will always be more important than busyness, even very good busyness.

Good, better and best can be a hard call. But coming to a full stop and listening to your gut will tell you which is which. 

You Have To Really Want It

Published in The Ferndale Record, July 31, 2013

If you’re a member of any social networking site, those positive “you can do it” messages are plastered everywhere. We’re told we can be whomever we want and to disregard scoffers.

It’s a little overdone, but people mean well. So, please keep that in mind while reading what follows.

All of my children, grandchildren, my former husband, his wife, and I went on a vacation together last week. It’s been 12 years since our divorce and we’ve created an amicable, if not friendly, family atmosphere.

It should be noted that my former spouse and I don’t make a habit of vacationing together, but this occasion was a beautiful exception that one of our children arranged for on a houseboat at Lake Powell, Arizona, and involved some of us traveling to and from the same destinations. We figured it out and made it work.

I’ll bet you’re thinking: “Her situation is different.” “I could never do that,” or “I would never WANT to do that.”

Think again. Children make all the difference. People do things they would never consider doing when children are in the picture. Then, after a while, you do it because you know it’s the right thing to do—to accept, let go and be kind. This doesn’t happen in a couple of weeks. But with effort, it happens.

It hasn’t been an easy process. But neither is bitterness and holding grudges. The latter is exhausting and turns us into someone no one recognizes.

Our family is not made up of wonderful, ‘better-than-you’ people. We don’t know everything and we grapple with touchy relationships like anyone else. It’s all uncharted, and with each family gathering, grandchild and major life event we do what works for us.  But the difference is in the decisions we’ve made.

The result has been open conversation about any weirdness that needs to be addressed, facing awkward situations with humor and candor, and the ability to all be under the same roof (not to mention on a houseboat) for awhile, and still appreciate each other in the ways we can.

I’m no longer married to the father of my children, but I care about him and our history. He’s married to a woman I’ve learned to know and love, who has been kind to my children, and welcomed me into her home. Is this a little weird? Yes. Does it make all of us happier than the alternative? You’d have to poll my family, but my immediate answer is “absolutely.”

Now here’s that warm, encouraging message I was talking about. Anyone can do this. Ordinary people like you and I are always doing extraordinary things. Tightening every family bond in spite of divorce is unique, but we are proof that it’s possible.

People are who they are. Situations shake out into whatever they’re going to be. But each individual has a say in how he behaves personally.

For a divided family, divorce isn’t the ultimate sadness. The real tragedy is widening the gap even further, to exclude, to let past hurts cloud what can be quite lovely.

I promise this is true.

Dispatches From The Front Lines Of School

Published in The Ferndale Record, July 3, 2013

When my kids were in elementary school I spent time in classrooms with teachers and volunteering with other parents. Maybe I superficially picked up on what happens there, but seeing the real deal comes from actually working in a school. That’s where I’ve learned a few simple things that alter the way I think collectively about children, teachers and administrators.

I work in a private school, but some things about people, especially children, are universal. I’m pretty sure I knew some of this before, but must have forgotten. Either that, or I’m seeing with new eyes.

Here are a few nuggets I’m just figuring out:

Children respect, and even love, responsible teachers far more than any of us know.

A Kindergartner’s first lost tooth is accompanied by pain and joy, which, in their tiny worlds, is similar to childbirth.

A drawing, gift or hug from a child you hardly know says more about children than it does about you.

An adult who looks like an axe murderer can, in reality, be a beloved parent.

Sometimes, ‘frequent fliers’ (kids who visit the health room often), are just looking for kind attention, or respite. I can relate to that.

Children with debilitating, scary allergies and physical limitations are often the ones who know exactly what they need, and how help should be administered.

Although they know how to lie, most of them don’t.

Me: Why is your leg bleeding?

Second-grader: I tore my scabs off.

Me: How did you get a bloody nose?

First-grader: I was picking it.

Say what you will, but I find this blatant honesty refreshing.

Young children are encouraged to be exactly who they are – young children. At our school, mostly kids but sometimes adults, walk the halls wearing construction paper crowns with impunity. I like working in a place where this is not considered abnormal behavior.

A tough little first-grader who rides BMX and plays football comes to ‘free dress’ at school in his camo jammies with his camo teddy bear and blanket. The irony is delicious.

Parents engage in heated conversation that rises in pitch, and as the appointed gatekeeper, I tell them to take it outside. My initial response is “They’re joking around,” which becomes “They’re doing this at school? In front of children? Really?”  Yes, they were, and I was not having it.

Teachers and administrators have seen everything. I didn’t fully comprehend this until a fourth grade boy came to the office announcing a rather nasty indiscretion that occurred in the boys’ bathroom. In fact, it was so disgusting I won’t go into any detail (you’re welcome). In the absence of a custodian, veteran teachers took control. I was in awe. This act alone demonstrated tenacity and problem-solving skills I can only hope to someday possess.

A copier that won’t work and no technician? Need to measure a room and no measuring tape? Not the right kind or color of paper available? Just ask a teacher. They’ll “MacGyver” it for you.

It’s also more apparent than ever that children learn what they live, and sometimes that can be disturbing. I’m only the nice lady in the office, but even I can see the residue from dicey home situations.

There must be lessons in all this, but maybe the only one worth mentioning is that I can still see some things are different than I thought. Being on the front lines is always an education.

We Are One Another. We Are Humanity.

Published in the Ferndale Record, May 29, 2013

I don’t have to live in Moore, Oklahoma or be a factory worker in Bangladesh to access just a bit of what these people might have experienced. When I think about why I can do that, it’s simple—every one of us who live and breathe are connected.

Why would I want to think about it? Because it’s dangerous not to. I risk losing compassion, vision, and even worse, my humanity. I can’t remain focused on the tragedy of the world, but my heart knows about loss, terror and pain. If only a little, I can relate.

When my firstborn was a toddler I attended a class close to Western Washington University in a building at the literal top of a steep cliff. Childcare was provided so I took my little boy. When class was over I went to pick him up but he wasn’t with the group. I panicked and enlisted friends in the search.

He wasn’t found in the building and so I turned outside where I knew he could have fallen down the incline and been hurt or worse. Soon, someone found him in the building, in a closet behind some chairs, doing what little ones do, playing—unaware of the search in his behalf.

This story had a happy ending, but I can revisit those emotions and start to feel what it might be like for the mother whose daughter didn’t come home from school on that awful day, and hasn’t since.

If we’ve ever felt hungry, even a little, we can multiply that and begin to imagine how it is for people in third world countries—or certain people in our own country, every day of their lives.

I’ve always worried that standing too close to the fire would consume me, that being acutely aware of what it’s like to walk through a neighborhood razed by nature or war would paralyze me with inaction and grief. But I don’t think that anymore.  Maybe it’s experience, age or a growing awareness of what feels most important, but I would act.

In January of 2010 when a catastrophic earthquake destroyed parts of Haiti, one of my friends went to help. He owned an airplane equipped to land and take off with large loads on short runways, and the call went out for those with such resources to help.

We reminded him of the dicey conditions: unknown territory and unscrupulous people taking advantage of others, not to mention flying bullets. He told us it was an opportunity to serve and he and his seasoned pilot spent several weeks shuttling supplies from a staging area in Florida to remote parts of Haiti.

We can’t demand caring from others or create it through legislation. It’s something we seem to have to learn on our own, sometimes the hard way—by being the ones in need. And we’ll all have a turn at that, one way or another.

No matter our stripe, creed, sexual orientation, hair color, language, background or culture, we are flesh and blood, and we are siblings on this planet, and if we really understand that, we’ll also get that we have more in common than we don’t, and our kindness and empathy will never leave us.

We are connected. We are one another. We are humanity.

Tales Of A Recovering Hyper Over-Enthusiast

Published in The Ferndale Record, March 27, 2013

I used to be ‘that’ mother. The one that yelled the loudest from the stands for her kid on the field, the one that clapped and hooted vigorously after every child’s performance, the one that gushed and cooed over every ‘participant’ ribbon my children brought through the door. 

When it was a trophy or winning award, the air oozed with gusto that could easily suffocate everyone else in the room. Exceptional examples of schoolwork or first numbers scrawled on a napkin were stuck onto the refrigerator for months.

Everyone knows parents who fall into the hyper-enthusiastic category. I thought prolonged cheerleading was how one motivated offspring, and didn’t know any other way to express the abundance I felt.

Then some time ago I discovered how embarrassing my antics had been to one of my children. This cut deep and hard. In the name of encouragement and parental zeal, I’d humiliated one I love.

I used to be ‘that’ mother, and inside my heart of hearts, I still am. I’ve toned it down, which is not a natural state for me, but curiously, especially as the mother of adult children, it’s revealing. Maybe it’s simple maturity or something like it, but robust hollering from the sidelines has been replaced with perspective and gratitude.

Recently, my son and daughter-in-law invited me to Boston for a visit. I got to spend a few days with their family, see them in their natural habitat, and observe the life they’ve built since their move from Seattle last summer.

The entire trip could have been me shouting from the stands. “Oh, this is wonderful! I love this house! What adorable children you have! This city is amazing! WOO HOO!” I could hear it all rumbling around in my soul. When we drove past Fenway Park, I’ll admit to a somewhat sedated outburst. I just couldn’t help it.

Then, right before the flight back to Seattle, I visited my son’s office on the 14th floor with a spectacular view of the Boston skyline. I saw his name on the door and felt that tug again—the one that wants to gush.

I saw the pictures of family on his shelves, the awards he’s earned, and quite suddenly I felt like he’d just brought his first finger painting home from kindergarten. Only this time, I had no words, no overwhelming ebullience to express. It caught in my throat, and the only thing I could feel was joy.

As he drove me to the airport I told him what a great job I thought he was doing with his family, his life, and that it was lovely to witness. He laughed and said something like, “And this from a mother who thinks everything I do is great!”

“No,” I told him, “It’s more than that. You love your wife and children and they love you. Your kids feel safe and want to be with you. You are building a happy life. I’m telling you I can see that.”

I’ve figured out that it’s not so much about me being a frenzied proponent as it is about loving without agenda, guile and ego. When I do that, my tendency to emote gets swallowed up in pure joy.

I still bubble over occasionally and probably always will. But there’s more satisfaction in subdued observation than I ever would have thought. Gravy days for sure!

Locked, Loaded And A Little Bit Humbled

Published in The Ferndale Record and The Lynden Tribune, November 28, 2012

The three of us, my daughter, my 15-year-old grandson (who, of course, was born when I was 25) and I made a trip south to the Norpoint Shooting Center in Arlington.

We walked in and my daughter said we wanted to shoot guns, but that she and I had never done it before. The tough-as-nails guy behind the counter looked at the boy and said condescendingly, “So, I guess you’ve played Call of Duty, right?” Apparently, he’d seen this scenario before.

Our boy’s answer was classic. Not glib, sarcastic, or even defensive. “I know how to shoot guns. I’ve done it a lot. My dad taught me.”

Camping trips into the Colorado wilderness with his rugged and kind father taught him plenty about guns and how to use them in real life.

OK, then, on to the business portion. Waivers were signed and money was exchanged.

We each chose a paper target and rented our weapon of choice. Mine was a Smith & Wesson Military and Police 9mm handgun. My daughter wanted to try a 10/22 rifle. The boy went with a .357 Magnum.

We were assigned a lane on the range and since two of us didn’t know what we were doing, the teenager who did had to stay on the lane with each of us, one at a time, to provide instruction and safety. We took turns politely.

Even with the ear protection we were given, it was loud on the range. Funny, it doesn’t sound or feel that shattering on TV or in movies, but I quickly learned that the whole process is way different than I imagined. It’s not just point and shoot. There are matters of focus, awareness, procedure and protocol.

My first shot, complete with muzzle fire, shook me to the core of who I am physically and emotionally. I laid the gun down on the platform and promptly felt I’d had enough. The powerful recoil was overwhelming; gunfire was coming from lanes on both sides and an ugly feeling rose up in me. The peace-loving, baby-protecting, violence-hating young mother I used to be made an appearance. I could see her wagging her finger at me in horror.

But the woman I’ve become put her in her place. No, I don’t intend to harm another person, rob a convenience store, kill birds for sport, or own a weapon. I went there just to shoot, and I wasn’t leaving after one round. I had to dig deep.

Without making my experience sound loftier than it was, I came away with a couple of new thoughts. I realized for the first time how utterly grateful I am to people who use firearms on a daily basis in my behalf. I wouldn’t want to do it for a living, but I’m thrilled there are good people who are willing to serve and protect.

Also, I convinced myself to do something unusual, different for me, and a little unnerving, simply to see what it was like. It was harder than I thought, on every level. So, I decided to use it as a metaphor for my life. I saved the shiny casing of my first round and it reminds me I can do difficult things.

Props for the day go to the boy, who exhibited not only considerable firearm smarts and safety, but compassion, patience and tolerance for rookies. Also, he spent the day before his 15th birthday shooting guns with his mother and grandmother, and in that capacity alone must have set some sort of teenage precedent.

I would go again. After all, Mondays are “Ladies Night,” and 50 percent off the usual cost. But mostly, I agree with The Simpsons’ Krusty the Clown when he said, “Guns aren’t toys. They’re for family protection, hunting dangerous and delicious animals, and keeping the king of England out your face.”

Thanks, Krusty. Words to live by.

Why The World Should Stop Everything And Watch The Olympics

Published in The Ferndale Record, August 15, 2012

During most of my adult life the Olympics have been almost mandatory viewing in our home. Kind of like staying tuned to the Emergency Broadcast System during a tornado warning.

For the past few weeks, media outlets and social networks have saturated us with reports from, about, on top of, under, and around London—and with good reason. It’s important, and here’s a short list of why:

*Because the Olympic Games have been and continue to be the pinnacle of sports achievement. If you make it onto the Olympic team, you’re among the elite at what you do. The Games are more important to athletes in general than the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA Championships, the World Cup, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but also the Indianapolis 500. Nothing tops an Olympic medal.

*Because for every Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps, there’s an athlete we know little to nothing about, who gave it everything they had and made it onto the team. Sometimes we see them, sometimes we don’t. But when we do, and they seemingly come out of nowhere to win a gold, silver or bronze, it makes no difference which country they’re from. That moment is magic, and if we’re watching, we get to see it.

*Because for a couple of weeks every two years we watch sculpted abs and chiseled forms honed into instruments that look like human bodies, but at around 2 percent body fat, probably don’t resemble our own. They do things that look impossible, but apparently aren’t. As someone with the athletic prowess of celery, I respect and admire Olympians. Plus, the eye candy is delicious.

*Because as one of the oldest Olympic competitors at age 39, Bulgaria’s legendary gymnast Iordan Iovtchev, owns the rings, and makes discipline, dedication and aging well, look easy and beautiful.

*Because when South African sprinter and double amputee Oscar Pistorius, running on his blades, advanced in the semifinals, but did not make it to the final in the 400 meter race, the winner of the heat, Grenada’s Kirani James, approached him after they crossed the finish, and traded race bibs. Apparently, James was simply honored to be in the same race with him.

*Because after their 10,000 meter run, and respective gold and silver finishes, competitors and training partners Mo Farah from Great Britain, and Galen Rupp from the United States, embraced and became national heroes for changing up sports history.

*Because all nations march and compete together. Because history is always made. Because hurdlers stumble and fall, and get back up to finish the race. Because there is no stage greater than the Olympics. Because in that venue, the words “faster, higher, stronger” are not just dreams, but realities.

*Because even though we want to see our colors fly, and our teams win, even though we’re told it’s a sure thing, it’s the Olympics, and the truth is, you never know. And that’s the beauty of it. Seeing an unknown from Lithuania top the podium, knowing he is literally the champion of the world at his particular event—sorry, TNT, but that’s the real drama.

We find art in a museum, in nature, in music, language, and the way people live their lives. I contend we also find it at the Olympic Games.