The flood has grown since this post was named or it might appear in the title. But while it has caused much suffering it was not anticipated like an approaching hurricane. But we do expect problems with rain and floods here.
This afternoon school is cancelled in many parts of the regionwhere I am due to storms and flooding. I’m not in school as a student nor an employee but I am very aware of its closure. The rain also changes many other things around here. For direct and indirect reasons it has affected my sleep. Texts and calls have been coming in over most of the last twenty odd hours from automated systems warning me of the flood. Such is life. The many problems that I already have are made worse when the little acts that make up my life and struggle are interrupted. This story continues to evolve around me across editions of this post. Hopefully with no tragedies among the near and dear in my life. But a cousin has needed rescue and nearer kin have needed sandbags. My current haunts in an old family home shared with my aunt are dry.
Many people, including one family very close to me, are more adversely affected than I am so far. But things have a way of letting you know when they are going from bad to worse. They often do. So why do I take time to watch the great successes on the Olympics? Even in the later edition of this post when, among many other troubles, I have a flood damaged phone and wound to worry about — I still took time to watch the Olympics. It’s a set of rituals, events and stories compelling to me even in a flood.
I still believe in struggle, effort, training and discipline even when the results are very far from world records and gold medals. There are a lot of other Olympic values that I share. In 2004 I found out during the Olympics that I might well get my papers in time to teach in China and I did. That’s after knowing that I had finally gotten the basic papers. But often the summer Olympics comes at a depressing and disappointing time of year for me as it does again this year. But I still watch and still care. My own less glorious struggle to survive the ordeals of another natural disaster remains connected to the stellar performance of Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin, Alyson Felix, Van Niecken and many others on the track sprinting today. I watch them in part the way that I will celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s the National Feast of the Acadian People and it is a Church solemnity. There are layers of meaning. I connect to the occasion in both Catholic and in Cajun ways.
“The future is not ours to see”, so the song popular in my childhood says. But it is all too often fairly predictable for many of us. The great success of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team was happily predictable. They looked rightly confident to me. For most of us life doesn’t usually and daily resemble the kinds of unequalled success we have seen this year in the performance of Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecki, Simone Niles and a handful of other superstars. Certainly, my life doesn’t much resemble the epic Olympic performance of Michael Phelps whom I have very much enjoyed watching in these Rio games. But in the process of living we all deal with the same sense of being faced with tremendous challenges. I know what it means to push on and so do many other people who will never find a gold medal at the end of their journey. I have been reviewing old correspondence and am aware that I have long lived a life founded in faith. Sometimes, I am very grateful for all the support my faith has received. Other days find me less grateful for the same set of shared experiences.
I have enjoyed the Olympics and hope to keep enjoying them. But on a personal level I relate more to the road racer in women’s cycling who had to cut her own air all the way to the finish line while three competitors drafted and posted their way along to pass her in the last seconds and leave her in a medal void at fourth place. I relate to another part of Team USA which is the water polo team eliminated by a loss to Montenegro in a game they had to win to have a chance to make it out of their pool or group to the single elimination tournament. I relate to the 800 meters American record setter locked behind the dominant African pack of lead runners and kept out of the medals. America is dominating these games but many American athletes are doing brave deeds and coming up short.
Truly I enjoy the glory of the great stars but I watch more to admire than to identify. I don’t diminish their glory and success but I am not so much made glorious by these events. However, I am very aware of my own lack of glory and success these days… I am aware of diminishing resources to bring to the fights in which I am engaged.
But like many of you reading this, I hope to keep going on the track I run and the lane I swim in daily life until my strength finally gives out….