The Winter Games

 

Enthusiasm is infectious. Like winning or crying or panicking. It’s also one of the few things that doesn’t get brittle in this season of short days and long nights.

The Olympics generate a lot of enthusiasm in a specialized population that spreads across the globe. Many participants have dedicated themselves to their sport since childhood and for some it goes back even further, to the footsteps of their parents.

There’s something inexplicably inspiring about watchimg a person slide down the sheer icy side of a mountain in Rosa Khutor, frozen raw, exhausted and sore, who gets to the bottom and wants nothing more than to get up and do it again. Repetition and mental preparation are no guarantee of smooth execution. Some athletes can perform anywhere but the Olympics and others only there.

Competition, head-to-head or against the clock, feeds a need for value and meaning. Doing your best, against the best, to see if you’re the best in the world, generates waves of enthusiasm that begin with the participant and quickly spread to family, friends, towns and countries.

Winter is the bleak season. Enthusiasms are hard to come by and it’s nice to know that a wide, thin web of humanity, under an increasingly irrelevant parade of national flags, are willing to share some of their bright flames through this cold dark season.

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