Archive for August, 2012

Olympic lessons

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

I have been much inspired by watching the Olympics. I’m amazed by the healing of my own attitude to the British in light of the Queen’s recent visit to Ireland. Even my inherent reaction to the Union flag has changed for the better. That nod of the royal head towards our dead patriots in the Garden of Remembrance earlier this year has shifted something tangibly within me. Intellectually I’d long discarded the myopic nationalism of my childhood and youth, one which watched Bloody Sunday live on television when I was aged ten.  Then, the British were the enemy on the day that the Parachute Regiment did more to recruit for the IRA than any campaign the republicans could have dreamed of.

I was thrilled by Katie Taylor’s much-deserved success. But Annalise Murphy’s heartbreak probably taught me more. The commentator mentioned how she would see that the wind was on the right and that the third time she would take the more favorable course. But she did not. And after the race, a distraught Annalise realized that it had been within her power to choose a different course. But then, she, and I, may have learned more by her mistake than had she blazed to Olympic gold. She was doing so many things right and only one thing wrong. And the realization that we can choose a different course, that it is within our grasp to change our destiny, is a wonderful lesson to learn. Think of Invictus, that wonderful film about Nelson Mandela: we are masters of our fate (even if we’re in prison!).

We can learn from our mistakes. Sometimes victory is missed not by forces beyond our control but by our passive repetition of a repeated mistake. Realizing I could choose differently is a powerful realization that we are masters of our fate. And we can, today, choose a different course. We are not slaves to habits or windless tunnels. The open seas are ours for the taking.