Tuesday, February 23, 2010

winter crazies

O.K. so the cartoon is about football and not hockey and it was me jumping up and down, yelling and groaning as I watched the Canada vs. US Olympic hockey game on Sunday night. I have to admit that I got a little emotionally invested in the game, one that has been touted as “our” game, “Canada’s” game during these Olympics. Pucks were flying and far too many of them were landing in the Canadian goal for my liking.

It was an amazing game to watch despite Canada’s loss. This is hockey as I remember it from my childhood. Full of fast play, solid clean checking; not the goon game it’s become – a combo wrestling/boxing free for all on ice with a bout of hockey breaking out now and then.

If only pro hockey could be this good. This is hockey I would watch all season!

It was passionate play. Passion, this is what the winter Olympics are all about. These athletes possess a passion to live life at the edge in winter. They rail against the boredom and inertia brought on by the long, cold nights and short, dreary days of this seemingly endless season.

Some kind of craziness seeps into their minds. This would have to be so. How else can one explain the desire to: whizz down a course full of mind boggling twists and turns head first on a sled barely big enough for an adult human being, or launch off the half pipe to a height of 35 feet, spinning and somersaulting all the way and land cat-like, feet first only to do it again and again, or be one of 4 competitors, shoulder to shoulder vying for lead position right out of the gate in the wild and crazy challenge that is snowboard and ski cross?

Passion, guts and phenomenal presence are displayed under the most unthinkable circumstances leaving the rest of us mere mortals in awe. Such was the case in the 2006 Olympics men’s aerials event when a skier flew into the air and lost not one, but both of his skis. When interviewed he recounted what his thoughts were during the (approximately) 3 seconds he was airborne.

It went something like (bear in mind I am paraphrasing from memory here), “Wow, there goes a ski…crumbs there goes the other one. Mmmm, I’m in a bit of trouble. Must land on my feet, but not too hard or I’ll break my ankles so I’ll have to slide a bit. Oh, and what the heck, while I’m up here I might as well complete the sequence I had planned.” (And, he did!)

I use this example when teaching meditation to illustrate just how many thoughts are possible within mere seconds – and these are the thoughts that he chose to enter his mind while others were howling for attention. What I, and most everyone else, would have thought goes something like this, “S***************T”! Just one long, sustained, 3 second, inner scream would echo in our minds as, paralyzed by fear, we plummet to the earth.

And, that’s why you and I are on the couch watching these insane, incredibly calm, smiley people (whether they do well or not, I’m amazed at what a great time the majority of the competitors seem to be having).

Yes, crazy but not without a sense of humour as well. What would the winter games be without the short track relay with all of the bum shoving used to propel team mates across the ice and in the 2 person bobsled where the last guy in runs like hell to get the thing up to speed only to jump in and curl up in a tiny ball with his head buried God knows where as they barrel down the course? Yup, I bet more than a few beers went into these ideas as well.

Ah, winter. It’s enough to make us behave like maniacs. Now I understand why people in warmer climes are so mellow. They don’t have the opportunity to get the winter crazies.
(cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 19991)

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