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by Staci Troilo

OlympicsI didn’t think I was going to watch the Olympics. Not because the athletes and the games don’t interest me. They do. I’m a sucker for a good competition. I’m just not crazy about the coverage, and I haven’t been for the last several games. The announcers try to make drama where there isn’t any (and we all have too much of that in our lives as it is, especially those of us with teenagers in the house), and this whole tape delay business is annoying. I already know the results; why bother watching?

Because I love the competition.

And because these athletes deserve our support. They worked so hard for such a fleeting chance at glory, why not give them their fifteen minutes? After all, these are the heroes of our generation, the ones we tell our children to emulate.

When I was a child, I saw Nadia Comaneci score the first perfect ten in gymnastics, and I was hooked. (Yes, I know she wasn’t then an American citizen, but I was young at the time, what did I know, or care for that matter? Her performance was amazing!) That same winter, when Dorothy Hamill took gold in figure skating, I was begging for her haircut, along with the rest of the girls in America. *Clears throat* years later, my kids share that fascination with the Games and the athletes, waiting to see which of their heroes are going to climb the podium and claim the gold.

The thing is, heroes don’t always win. (tweet this)

Shaun White trained for the last four years for the Sochi Olympics. And for many years before that. Everyone expected the “three-peat” in the halfpipe. Shaun was the reigning champion, having won the gold at the last two Winter Games. He had stiff competition, sure, but come on, he’s Shaun White. He’s untouchable.

When you lift your heroes to lofty heights, they have a long way to fall. (tweet this)

Sochi Olympics

Shaun White mislanding during finals in halfpipe via Reuters/Mike Blake

White came in with high expectations on his shoulders, placed on him by the world and by himself. That’s a lot of pressure. He was prepared, and he continued to train while he was in Sochi. Maybe he trained too much. He doesn’t usually show up as early as he did. Maybe breaking his routine messed him up. Maybe the conditions of the pipe (less than stellar) conspired against him. Maybe he psyched himself out. Maybe his competitors were just better than him on that given day.

It really doesn’t matter. The event is over. Our lives go on.

It matters to Shaun White, who placed fourth.

It matters to Iouri Podladtchikov, who won gold.

The rest of us realize that sometimes, heroes fall. Sometimes at the worst possible time. (tweet this)

In the Olympics, there are no second chances. Just a lifetime of if only and what if.

In real life, there are second chances. If our heroes fall, we can watch their reactions and see if they get back up and rally (true heroes) or give up and go home (fair weather facsimiles). Everyone falls at some point. Let’s make sure we’re only emulating people with the courage to get back up.

For Writers

You’re going to face adversity in your journey. You’ll hit writer’s block, you’ll get rejection letters, you’ll receive bad reviews, you’ll be ignored. What are you going to do about it?

You can give up. Obviously you weren’t supposed to be a writer.

Not.

You are a writer because you have a passion for the craft, a burning desire to share your stories with the world through the written word. If you stumble, if you fall, you don’t stay down. You get back up and keep going, clawing your way if you have to. I know, because I’m a writer, too. I’m with you. And if you can’t get up on your own, let me know. I’ll help you.

And this desire to succeed? Don’t forget to instill it in your fictional heroes, too. To be interesting, characters have to face adversity. To be realistic, they have to fall. But to be heroic? They have to get back up again.

Today Americans “celebrate” Presidents’ Day. What used to be a celebration of two presidential birthdays has been consolidated into a day to honor all US Presidents. Love them or hate them, agree with their policies or not, this “holiday” began because of our first president who fought to establish this country and our sixteenth president who fought to keep it together as a single nation while liberating all its citizens. These are true heroes, and we shouldn’t forget or belittle their contributions.

Athletes, leaders… maybe family members, military personnel, or public servants. We all have heroes. Would you like to share a hero’s story here? Or maybe you’d like to discuss your favorite heroic moment of the Olympics? Let’s chat.

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