Letter From New York February 27, 2010

Or, as it seems to me…

As I begin to write this, I am watching the 2010 Winter Olympics – as I have done often during the last two weeks. It has been interesting to me that I have spent so much time on this Olympics, more than I have on any other. I have asked myself frequently why I have become so engaged with this event? Certainly I can’t remember any other Olympics in which I have become so engaged.

Perhaps it is because the U.S. is doing well and, God knows, we could use some good news – it has been pretty unremittingly awful for a long time now. Or is it that I am so aware of winter this year, writing while I am watching the Olympics and while the Northeast is struggling through another brutal winter storm, making me hyper aware of winter and its challenges.

Perhaps it is that having been in meetings back to back from the time [it seems] I have brushed my teeth in the morning until the time I have brushed my teeth at night, I wanted something that had nothing to do with anything else I was doing – escape. The Winter Olympics provided me with that, thank God.

There was a lot to escape from – the back-to-back meetings, for example. And then there was the former coffee cart worker who pleaded guilty this week to conspiring to blow up a bomb on a subway here in New York. The morning I heard that on the radio I didn’t get on the subway, a visceral response to an admitted threat. I was, for a moment, afraid. No wonder bobsled racing seemed interesting.

I had my favorites in Women’s Figure Skating. I wanted what was the actual result – the wonderful Korean for Gold, the magnificent Japanese for Silver and the very brave Canadian Joannie for Bronze, she who ice danced to a medal despite the death of her mother at the outset of the Games.

I had no idea who Lindsey Vonn was prior to these Games; same for Apolo Ohno – had no idea he had won Gold in Torino. Now I do. And I am following him now. All of this is a bit of a mystery to me – how did I and why did I become so engaged in these Games?
It was because I wanted escape. Escape from the back-to-back meetings. Escape from the man who wanted to bomb the subways. Escape from the unrelenting reality of the winter storms that have clogged the Northeast. Escape. Not a bad thing, I think.

The Olympics are reality, a reality as real as the snow and slush that dominate the streets of New York tonight. Men and women pushing themselves to the edge of what they or any human can do. It is inspiring to watch, humbling to see, awe inducing at the end. It has been an inspiring spectacle to watch. And a great escape from the endless meetings.

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