August 23, 2004

The country I live in has not been doing too well in 
the Olympics this year. At the time of my writing 
this, Canada is tied for 17th place in the medal 
standings with only four medals: one gold, two silvers 
and one bronze. The impression I have is that 
Canadians in general are pretty disappointed with our 
country's performance.

Someone commented to one of my older children that the 
reason why Canada is doing so poorly is that our 
athletes' highest priority in the Olympics is having 
fun, while the top nations are there to work.

I don't know if that is true, but I do get the 
impression that some of the other countries take the 
Olympics far more seriously than many of us do. I saw 
a short feature on one of the Eastern European women's 
gymnastic teams. These young ladies are in intensive 
training for most of the year, much of that time away 
from home and family. Their extreme dedication is 
clearly seen on their faces.

I don't really believe that our Canadian athletes are 
more interested in the fun of the Olympics than they 
are in the events themselves. Still, I think many of 
us have an aversion to what appears to be a very 
somber approach to athletics.

I could be wrong, but I get the impression that 
countries that embrace lifestyles similar to Canada 
tend to think that if we are not having fun, then it 
is not worth the effort. As the saying goes, "All work 
and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Perhaps the real issue here has to do with how badly 
one wants to achieve whatever it is he or she is 
striving for. If Jack, in the saying quoted above, was 
in a life or death situation, then it wouldn't matter 
how much fun he was having. Then again, I imagine 
there are people whose own slogan might be, "Have fun 
or die."

Those who think that way, fail to see the seriousness 
of their lives. We might look at the dedication of 
some athletes and wonder why anyone would be so 
dedicated to the winning of a sporting event. If that 
is the case we most likely don't understand how much 
it means to them and to those around them.

It is amazing what a human being can do when they want 
something badly enough. Even the most common of human 
desires can be forgotten when a person is intensely 
focused on a particular goal. That's what I saw in the 
faces of the gymnasts I mentioned.

Could you imagine what our lives would be like if we 
were that committed to the things that are most 
important to us? While it is not a bad thing to have 
fun, I wonder if we are more committed to fun than we 
are prepared to admit.