“You win the gold, you
feel good. You win the bronze, at least you got something. But that silver medal it’s like “Congratulations…you almost won. Of all the losers you came in first in that group. You’re the #1 loser. No one lost ahead of you.”
I’ve been watching the summer Olympics with great interest. The drama of this Olympics is very high and some of the stories that have come out this year have been incredible.
While watching the gymnastics competition last night, I think seeing McKayla Maroney fail to win the gold, only to come in second, gives you an idea of what it means to be an Olympic athlete from America. Maroney was a favorite in the vault competition but fell on her second attempt. Even with the fall, this girl is so amazing, she took second.
As she stood up on the podium with her silver Olympic medal, you’ve never seen a person who looked more unhappy. She was standing there crossing her arms, as if to hide the silver medal. She was ashamed of it and she knew that she just let the nerves get to her and if she just did something a little different, she would have gotten gold. But it didn’t work out that way.
The way she was standing on the podium really got me thinking about how Americans think. Americans like to win, really, under any circumstances.
Her disappointment also got me thinking about life in general. Here in the Hamptons, I’m frequently amazed when I see a rich person who seems to be upset about something. I’ve seen some of the richest people on the face of planet earth, mope around in depression because something in their life wasn’t going the way they expected it to go.
And even when you accomplish the greatest achievement of your career, it’s amazing to see how the mountain you’ve climbed feels like a molehill. I watched an interview with a reporter congratulating a NASA official for achieving the unthinkable, having a remote-controlled rover actually land on Mars and send back detailed information about a planet. It’s just the craziest damn thing. The reporter smiled, gave his congratulations and then asked, “Okay so now that we’ve landed on Mars, where does NASA go from here? What’s next?”
And I found myself interested in the question, as if I was thinking, well okay, whatever, they landed on Mars, that’s sort of old news now, what’s the next plan?
You would think that people who seem to have it all, who seem to be getting everything they want at all times, get to walk around the world constantly happy and excited all of the time. You would think that if it was you up there winning a silver medal, accomplishing one of the highest achievements in sports, that you would be happy about it.
But all of us understood the emotions that Maroney was going through and felt like she should feel sad. None of us blamed her for being sad, and the reason is because humans, as a species by nature, are just this way. Even when we have it all, if it’s not what our ultimate goal was, it’s easy to be disappointed.
I think that one of the reasons the current economy in America is so incredibly traumatic for so many people, has little to do with their actual situation in terms of food and safety, but with the disappointment with themselves that the economy has brought. So many people today are still in shell shock because a venture that without question would have brought them great fortune in good times, has ended up falling apart in bad times. They are still living in the greatest country in the world and have food on their table and relative safety and stability around them, but they stand there on the podium, upset, as if they’ve failed, when really, they haven’t. It just didn’t work out the way it was expected, and that’s life, and you can always go for it again and there is always hope that you can achieve again, and that’s the part that’s great.