A Canadian newspaper critic was going on in his usual snide fashion about the 100 meter race and how foolish we are to make a big deal over it, given that it only lasts ten seconds. Today as I was waiting with bated breath for the men’s hundred meter to start, my husband surprised me by saying the same thing the critic had said. He wasn’t disparaging the 100 meters like the critic did, but he was saying in a nutshell that “it’s almost like watching Nascar, except given that it is only 100 meters, it’s over in ten seconds. I mean what are they going to do after it is over?”
Wow. We could not be farther apart in this regard because I see it as something else completely.
Firstly, all due respect to my husband, I do not view their race, their training, and their moment in or out of the sun, as something they need to parlay into something else. It is what it is, in that moment in time and all the time spent leading up to it.
To me the 100 meters is a glorious parallel of what life is and the living of it. Working and playing and loving the path that leads us, ever closer, to our goal. And that ten seconds? (or less than ten seconds if you saw today’s final) IS life, I think. It is this precious life of ours that gets shorter and shorter. At this stage of my life, I get it. What did I do with my ten seconds? What did I accomplish? And more that that, what can I still do with the seconds that are left? Shorter and shorter it gets as we near our end time here on earth. I see that ten seconds as the brass ring that must be grabbed every time we wake up to another day.
Ten seconds is a lifetime and a lifetime is ten seconds. It makes glorious sense to me.
Barbara: Of course you know, Deb, that I am just as much of an Olympics fanatic as you are, and I want to tell you: I LOVE this analogy. First of all, I also LOVE the 100 meter race. It is exciting and dynamic in ways no other race can be. To me that’s the nutshell of “why do it”. No other race can give witness to that burst of human physical prowess or answer the question “what is the top human speed?” The other races, by comparison, must factor in stamina and endurance. But on a totally metaphorical sense, I think the comparison between life and the 100 meters is sublime. It is over in a flash, and so many of us—if not all—will ask at some point, “Well, why did we do it/bother/make such a big deal over it?” We’re all running it, whether we realize it or not. So let's train for it, fight for it, revel in it. Eat it up. It really does go by so very quickly... Just remember, the glory is in the running, not the final medal at the end.