Posts Tagged ‘Olympics’

Olympic Dreaming

February 8, 2014

I felt as though I had fallen into a dream the minute I switched on the TV last night planning to watch the news but finding that I had tuned in, almost miraculously, at the very second the coverage was beginning for the Opening Ceremonies at the Olympics in Sochi. Not having realized exactly when the ceremonies were being broadcast nor having planned to watch them, suddenly there I was. In the dream. I fell in, watched it all through.

Born in 1951, I grew up with the notion of Russia as a scary, worrisome, possibly evil “other” – almost like a myth of the wicked, evil one who might eat a child, in this case one who might blow us all up. Over the years of maturing and the dynamics on the world stage shifting, Russia became in my mind that mysterious other, haunting the imagination with her literature, art, architecture and seemingly unknowable enigma; her strong soul bravely enduring unthinkable hardships.

I was extremely moved when in the very opening moments of the ceremonies they showed a young girl’s face, saying her name which I couldn’t catch, but the name means “Love.” The commentator said she represents the feminine soul of Russia. What a way to start! Immediately she lifts off the ground and begins to fly, fly high, a brave little girl. They explain that “She will tell the story of Russia through a series of dreams, as Russians see themselves as dreamers.” The history of Russia as told through the dreams of a child! How beautiful. I thought the story was magnificently told in brilliant artful display. This is certainly a unique opportunity for Russia to bare her soul on the world stage. The music, the ballet, I was entranced.

I don’t want to talk about Putin in terms of politics. I will say that when I heard that last week in a zoo he was seen “cradling a leopard, which you rarely see politicians do,” I thought “Yep, never heard of a politician doing that one before.” I would love to cradle a leopard! Who is this man? What must be the dreams of Putin? Russia covers 9 time zones, it is that vast. They explained that in an essential sense the source of many of Russia’s most basic problems is that she is so isolated and alienated from the rest of the world; they were isolated from the Renaissance, isolated from the Enlightenment. What longing Russia’s soul must be expressing now to bridge that gap. Isolation and alienation are cruelly painful states.

I could go on about what I am feeling regarding the dream of Russia, but it is the dreams of the athletes that are most glorious to watch, like catching a fire just to look at their spirits. I have a daughter who is training for the Olympics in 2016, hoping to make the team in Women’s Weightlifting. I know in a personal way how hard these athletes work, how much of their life is given over to their sport, how much heart it takes to keep on with their efforts and training, to take defeat, to never lose vision, to keep their dreams alive and their spirits strong.

I appreciated what Thomas Bach, the President of the International Olympic Committee, said: “The Olympic Games are a sports festival embracing human diversity in great unity. Therefore I say to the political leaders of the world, thank you for supporting your athletes. They are the best ambassadors of your country. Please respect their Olympic message of good will, of tolerance, of excellence and of peace. Have the courage to address your disagreements in a peaceful direct political dialogue and not on the back of these athletes.” I’m pretty sure that was, at least in part, a jab at Jimmy Carter for his decision to withhold our athletes from Russia’s previous Olympics, but I do feel the point is well taken and well spoken. My daughter and her teammates are the most glorious ambassadors this country could hope for, no one works as hard as these athletes do.

These days ahead are mythic time. Dream time. Please to the gods, may great blessings of peace protect and lift these events. May they unify our hearts as a global community and bring courage, pride and love to each athlete, each nation, and all of us as one on this beautiful Earth as she spins through the galaxies leaving such splendid sparks and trails of glory.

My Little Plans

March 1, 2010

I have never bothered to post pictures before, but today, wanting to honor Snow, my captor, I decided to put up these shots I took just a few minutes ago. The one on the left is outside my back door, the one on the right is my sweat lodge on a little knoll below my house.

I wrote an e-mail to a friend to tell her I wouldn’t be able to make it to the art gallery soiree we were planning to go to in Asheville today called Women and Wine, a fundrasier for the gallery; nor did my musician friends who were planning to gather on the mountain last night for fun and music together make the drive – because this, what you see above, moved in. I told my friend, “I am trying to stay in love with Mother Nature, but she doesn’t seem to give a hoot about my plans!” That brought to mind a memory of my spiritual teacher belly laughing as she was talking to us once, saying, “God doesn’t care anything about your little plans!” She could get so tickled, which was so much fun to watch, and the truth of this statement hit me like a little lightning bolt.

I’m not very comfortable using the word “God” anymore as I realize it is too overused, and that very few people have the same thing in mind when they say it, causing its use to distort communication more than assist it. At the time of hearing her say that, though, I knew what she meant of course. Now I generally use less charged words for the same idea, like “nature” or “universe.”

Which leads to my point. Nature doesn’t care anything about my little plans! It seems to me to be one of life’s biggest and hardest lessons. The economy breaking down is destroying a lot of plans. The tsunamis and earthquakes, mud slides and fires – not caring about our plans. How do we situate ourselves appropriately in the context of this much bigger mind of reality? I remember noticing long ago that in Taoist art they paint magnificent, enormous landscapes, with tiny little figures of people somewhere in them on a boat or a trail that you will notice if you look a long time. The Taoist relationship to that huge reality is expressed by the proportions expressed in their art. In Western art often humans are huge towering figures, way larger than life, with their myths and dramas the main expressions in the paintings. Landscapes are by comparison small, distant, lovely backdrops for human affairs.

In Taoist art, you can see right away that nature really doesn’t care anything for our little plans. In Western art, our plans and dramas seem to be the point, nature is decoration. Surely between these two perspectives there is a balance to be struck. I do believe it is one of life’s biggest and hardest lessons. Every night when I turn on the news I hear Nature making her point with all of these challenging natural disasters, most lately in Chile with the tectonic plates under South America moving into new positions. I believe we are not just meant to be victims of what nature decides, nor do I believe in the illusion that we have any control at all. We have a task that we are trying to discover rules and intelligence for in working out this big relationship; how to allow our “little plans” to fit into her “big plans.” It’s an Olympian task. I say this on the closing days of the 2010 Winter Olympics feeling it as such for us.