Three facts you should know about me:
- I love happy people. I love making people happy and I love watching people smile and laugh and get excited about things.
- I love the Olympics.
Okay, I can say that, but I don’t think you understand. We all toss the word “love” around pretty casually, declaring our love for everything from our families to sandwiches. But I love the Olympics. The Olympic Games are quite literally one of my favorite things on earth, and have been since I watched the Nagano 1998 Games as a kid.
- I have a funny reaction to happiness. I mean that in both a figurative and literal sense. Where most people seem to grin a lot or whoop or jump up and down…I mean, I do those things too sometimes. But I also just…laugh. Sometimes I giggle until I actually cry tears of happiness. This is often very confusing for people who don’t know me well. Them: ”Uhh…is there something funny about that?” Me: *wiping away tears of laughter* “No! It’s beautiful and wonderful and I’m so happy!”
Put these three things together and you will understand why I have spent a lot of time in the last week laughing with utter delight.
I’m not much of a sports person most of the time; I enjoy downhill skiing and have attended myriad soccer matches, but beyond that, sports-apathy is the name of the game. But there’s something special about the Olympics. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s only every couple of years (though the Winter Games are actually my favorite, so I look forward to those even more). Maybe it’s the spirit behind the Games–the idea that, just for two weeks, the nations of the world attempt to set aside their differences and try to compete with grace, honor, and sportsmanship. (We rarely live up to the ideal, but I appreciate it nonetheless.) Maybe it’s the Parade of Nations, full of beautiful, smiling people. Maybe it’s the nerve-wracking photo finishes. Maybe it’s marveling at what human beings are capable of. Maybe it’s all of the above and more.
I grant you: these particular Olympics are the most fraught ones I can remember seeing. #SochiProblems, Russia’s horrendous policies towards the LGBTQ community (and stray dogs), Russian hackers, NBC’s terrible coverage and commentary…the list goes on. I understand and respect why some people have chosen to boycott the games; I’m angry about a lot of this stuff too. And, I love the Olympics. It is perhaps one of the few facets of international interaction that I am not completely cynical about.
So I’m choosing to do my best to laugh as much as I possibly can in this last week of competition. Doing my best to marvel at humans and what they can accomplish, and doing my best to appreciate the Olympic spirit. Because if nothing else, the world could use more happiness, and 2016 and Rio de Janeiro are such an awfully long way away…