As much as I am enjoying the games and athletic events of the Olympics (I love everything about Michael Phelps, I adore seeing all the Chinese teams - especially the women's gymnastics! - and how about when Nastia yelled and cheered for Shawn when they were competitors? LOVED THAT!) I am equally enjoying the commercials and the side stories and special interest stories that are sprinkled throughout the coverage.
Today, we were honored to be invited to witness the baptism of one of the travelmates of May's adoption group from 2001 (who also just happens to be one of her best friends). Someone there asked me who I cheer for in the Olympics -- the US or China? I said, "BOTH!"
I often refer to our family as a blended culture, or mixed culture family. We are not a multiculture family, each having our "own" culture. We have blended and we all benefit from the cultures of both the USA and China.
I got to thinking ...
In 1971, when I was a 7th Grader, I had no real concept of China. Back then, it was a place to be feared and kept at arm's length. It was Communist. Red China. I definitely bought into the Us and Them type of thinking. But, I was a child.
I really had little interest in emormity of the Ping Pong Diplmacy that happened when table tennis (ping pong) stars Zhuang Zedong and Glenn Cowen met and became friends and began a reopening of China.
In 1972, when I was in eighth grade, I knew that President Nixon went to China. I prayed and worried with many in my community for his safety as he visited that strange country of China. Red China.
There were so many changes in my own personal life in 1976 (graduated from high school, got my first job, fell in love, got my heart broken - you know, the typical 17-18 year old stuff) that the fact that the Cultural Revolution ended and China was changing, opening and growing somehow escaped my focus.
In 2001, when I traveled to China to bring my baby daughter May home to the United States, I did little thinking of all that happened in the prior 52 years in order for things to change enough to allow this miracle. All I knew was that I was getting my own miracle -- I was becoming a Mom.
Around that time, I started reading many memoirs and autobiographies about people who were in China during the Cultural Revolution of the 60's and 70's. I clearly remember weeping as I read one book that was written by a woman born in the same year as my next older sister (1952). She went through many struggles, oppression, hunger, fear, and abuse as I was on the other side of the world - blissfully unaware of the Cultural Revolution. The differences in her life and that of my own and my sister's (sharer of her birth year) were as dramatic as black is to white, dark to dawn, up to down, yes to no. I was just unaware.
I am thankful for the filler and side stories during the Olympics that are bringing many of these things freshly to mind.
And, how about the commercials? My VERY FAVORITE is the Visa credit card commercial (I must put a plug in here for debt-free living, and NO credit card debt - take heed, all wh0 hear my words) that has the voice of Morgan Freeman (he's so great - LOVED The Bucket List!) and features the story of the 1992 Olympic athlete Derrick Redmond and his dad, and how they finished the 400 meter race together after Derrick was injured.
You can see one version of that here (complete with commentator speaking Japanese - which I love!!):
You can see the Visa commercial here:
I love the commitment. He did not finished first ... or second ... or third .,.,., or fourth ... he (and his father) finished dead last. But, they finished!
Flash to now. 2008. I actually saw one event where one of the athletes decided not to participate, because she already had a gold medal and decided that the event was not worth her time, so she skipped it.
I teach my children to finish what they start. I teach them to complete things. I teach them to stay on task. I teach them to choose to participate. I teach them that everyone who finishes ... wins.
Parenting my children is hard. But, I must finish. I will not finish until I die. But, I am committed!
I tell each of my children that they are bound for greatness. I tell them that they can accomplish anything they set their hearts to. I believe in them and their skills and strengths with all my heart.
It is up to each of them to catch that FIRE that lives within Michael Phelps.
May it be so.
And now some photos I took off my TV (just for you, Jerri!). You know - I think I can remember taking photos off my TV as a child, with my 124 instamatic camera with the cube flash. LOL!