I love watching the Olympics, and I love rooting for my country. I always want Americans to win the most gold medals.
And yet I can't help but think that wanting an Olympic gold is a foolish goal. Preparing for it is excellent, of course. Making it to the Olympics and trying your best to win is spectacular. But there are those athletes that just don't seem to be pleased with themselves unless they win a gold medal. Neither silver nor bronze is good enough.
Now, I don't know what it's like to be a professional athlete, and I don't know what it's like to spend most of my waking hours training each muscle in my body to do what I tell it to. The physical, emotional, and mental demands on an athlete's life must be grueling. Perhaps the only consolation for a life devoted to sport is to win an Olympic gold.
Would I be a bad parent, though, if I told my future children that no matter how hard they train, there might be someone better? That there might be someone with a faster time, a younger body, or higher endurance? Do I tell them that silver is good enough? That it's essentially as good as gold (because it truly is, in my book)?
I think it's extremely harmful to think that you can be the absolute best at something. What happens to your worldview, if you find out that you're not, in fact, the best? We might all be the best at what we do, but maybe we're all the best at alternating moments. If that's the case, then an athlete—or anyone else—shouldn't be so hard on themselves, if they aren't number one at a given moment in time.
But how do you teach that to a child without crushing his or her hopes and dreams? How do you teach that without causing them to think that something's not worth trying?
Thing I'm thankful for: a bed to sleep in and a place to keep my things.