I'm a typical American. Football, baseball, basketball. Luge, bobsled, slopestyle, halfpipe - not so much. But, like millions of others, there's something about the Olympics that draws me in. To watch sports I know little about.
Because of the drama. The human drama.
The world's best on the world stage, with much of their life invested in what will be only minutes of their life. Giving it all for the glory of winning. Or the agony of losing.
I don't skate on a world stage. I won't be winning even an aluminum medal. But there are Olympic takeaways for me.
Like how to handle losing. Stinging setbacks. Bitter disappointments.
We've already been able to see some examples in the Games at Sochi.
1. Know the difference between what you do and who you are.
No one has been the face of Team USA more than snowboarder Shaun White. With two gold medals in the halfpipe, a third win would have made history.
He didn't win anything. No gold, no silver, no bronze.
But in the midst of what had to be a crushing disappointment, he had some helpful perspective. For all of us who've watched a dream slip away.
He said, "This is just one part of who I am - a big part - but I want to be more than just that."
There's all the difference in the world between, "I failed" and "I'm a failure." Yes, you may have fallen short athletically, academically or at work. Or even more significantly, in a major life relationship.
But "I've failed" doesn't mean "I'm a failure." You aren't what you do. You are your character, your God-given worth - which has nothing to do with your performance.
No setback, no broken dream can rob you of you. Unless you let it.
2. Look for the lesson and move on.
Skier Bode Miller knows the glory. A five-time Olympic medalist. But in Sochi, he finished eighth in the men's downhill.
In the midst of the disappointment, one reporter said, "He painfully dissected what went wrong." Miller said, "I think everyone wants to find the answers as to why it didn't go better."
When I've messed up, there are always lessons to learn. That can, if I'll man up to the responsibility, keep me from messing up again.
Learn the lesson. Don't dwell on the failure. One women's cross country star, who was expected to medal for the USA, said this after finishing as an also-ran: "So I'm just going to put today in a box and move on to the next one."
3. Look where you're going, not where you've been.
Erin Hamlin just became the first American to win an Olympic medal in singles luge.
She was a favorite to do that in Vancouver in 2010. She was out of medal contention after the first heat.
This week she said, "I was really disappointed, and I knew that's not how I wanted to end my Olympic legacy. It was super-motivating."
I like that. Dwelling on the past is futile. It can't be changed. But the future is yet to be written.
It's been a big deal whenever one of our grandchildren got to 20 pounds. Because that's when you get to turn your car seat around! No more looking at where you've already been. From now on, it's all eyes on where I'm going!
Great way to live.
Great way to be a "comeback kid."
When Healing Seems Impossible
by Guest Blogger Doug Hutchcraft
This is probably not the first or last article you’ll read about the George Zimmerman trial. The questions and confusion can be maddening: Was the shooting racially motivated? Was it self-defense? Sadly, we will probably never know the vital details of that night.
Our sons were - and are - crazy about baseball. Now our grandsons are. They know the players, the standings, the stats. Crazy about baseball.
But dark clouds have again rolled in over America's baseball stadiums. With reports that some stars - kids' heroes - cheated to be great.
PED are not the initials for some new government program. It's a performance-enhancing steroid. Yes, it's against the rules of baseball to have it in your system. But, hey, it's all about winning, right? And, besides, I'm a star and the rules don't really apply to me, right?
Our friend Ruthie loves crossword puzzles. And she hates bridges. So when she's riding with us and there's a bridge, she knows what to do. She covers her face with her crossword puzzle book til it's over.
I've teased Ruthie about this a lot. But after two bridges in a week collapsed in different parts of the U.S., I'm wondering if I should buy a crossword puzzle book. Oh wait - I'm driving.
Even the reporters are choked up. What the monster tornado tore up in Moore, Oklahoma is tearing at our hearts.
Houses gone. Neighborhoods gone. Schools gone. Children. Gone.
People wandering the streets "like zombies," trying to figure out where their house was. Parents waiting in the mud, looking for some shred of hope that their child is somehow alive beneath the rubble of their school. Children in shelters, wondering if they'll ever see their parents again.
The photos, the stories, the video images - they defy words. Some of them have struck a pretty deep chord in my heart.
Like the team from Joplin, Missouri, hurrying to help people in a way only they can. Two years ago, it was part of their town that vanished in the deadliest twister ever. They know how having your world erased in a moment feels.
It's strange. The worst things that happen to us become the compassion and comfort we have to treat other wounded people. Those who've been hurt become heroes of healing for others who are bleeding.
Somehow our pain has meaning when we can use it rebuild someone else's life. I call it crud-entials. How the crud of your life qualifies you to help a hurting world.
I was touched, too, by the directive given by the rescuers at the leveled Plaza Towers Elementary School. Knowing there were children in that rubble, the first responders asked everyone to be quiet. "So we can listen for voices."
That's what I want to be better at. Stopping the chatter so I can listen for the voices of people in trouble.
They're all around us. If we have ears to hear their cries.
You know something huge has happened when my Yankees are playing the Red Sox fans' favorite song - at Yankee Stadium! When leaders from both political parties are saying, "Today there are no Democrats or Republicans."
That's what happened when bombs suddenly rained death and destruction on the Boston Marathon. The shock waves reached around the world. And brought back to my heart an all-too-familiar wave of sadness.