The Paralympics: That’s How the Light Gets In
I must admit to being underwhelmed by the Paralympic opening ceremonies. I mean, the children were cute and the military bands were rousing, but the whole affair had a sense of being, excuse the expression, ramped down from the “real” Olympics. It all had a comparatively low-budget pall over it and interest in it is markedly lower. Nobody wants to say the word, “lame” out of good taste, but let’s face it, well, what else can one call it?
Personally, 2009 wasn’t a good year and from what I can tell, it wasn’t good for a lot of other people as they lost their jobs, homes, loved ones and sometimes their hopes to this “global economic downtown” (when can we call it a depression?) and other calamities.
Last summer, in the throes of agony from a broken heart, I was awoken in the middle of the night by a drunken neighbour, a dentist, silhouetted nude and gunning his Harley in his garage for all his neighbours to see (and hear). It wasn’t long before he fell off, burned his naked hide on the exhaust pipes and lay on the garage floor for what seemed like hours yelling, “oh my god, oh my god, oh my god”. This was my moment to reflect, despite my grief, there are a lot of people handling their disappointments with, shall we say, less grace than I was mustering.
Watching the Paralympics opening ceremonies made me think of my dentist neighbour again. The connection is that Paralympians represent more than humans excelling despite physical obstacles. The message I drew is that we’re all broken in some way. We’ve all got a story. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either a liar or in denial. To quote Keats, “For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.”
Things get broken—limbs, hearts, hope, minds, promises—it’s all really the same, but of course we can’t have an Olympics for everything. Can we? Imagine a broken-hearted Olympics for those who’ve loved and lost. What would they compete at? Getting out of bed every day, Sisyphus-like, and facing another day?
So, why is the Paralympics being sold short? Why is it being ramped down? Is being human less worthy than being super human. My hope is that the Paralympics doesn’t go out with a whimper in Vancouver as it seems to be edging toward. Today, when I heard the BC Hydro horn (now at Canada Place) announce Brian McIvor’s first Paralympic gold win for Canada, I cheered for Brian, for Canada, and for that place in me that isn’t perfect.
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.” - Leonard Cohen