Saturday, February 13, 2010

I am a proud Canadian

No doubt about it - it's a wonderful time to be in Vancouver right now. Even if I don't get to see any of the athletic events live, I still consider myself very blessed, to be able to be here in this city - my own backyard, as it were - and be a part of this great tradition we call the Olympics.

The city has a very special look and feel. Familiar landmarks have been transformed into pavilions and exhibits. Granville Street, after years of being torn up all along its downtown length, has now been re-sewn into a magical broad way of lanterns and light. Apartment balconies and office and store windows have blossomed with Canadian flags, and everywhere on the street are splashes of red, as people proudly sport Canada shirts, hats, scarves, and those famous mittens.

And of course there are those people from other nations...groups wearing the same jackets (maybe they're athletes?!) or waving the flag of their own country. They comment on how beautiful Vancouver is, and I say, yes it is, and yes - I live here!

For me, the thrill of the Olympics is not just about the athletic competition - it's about all these people from all over the globe coming to my city, my home. It makes me feel that the world is not such a big place, that distances are not as great as they seem.

This was brought home to me as I watched the Opening Ceremonies on television, with my cel phone to my ear as my parents watched it in Montreal. At one point during O Canada, there was a shot of our troops in Afghanistan standing and singing along, as we were in our own living rooms - as countless other Canadians undoubtedly were in their own homes across the country.

Later, we all paused for a moment of silence, remembering the Georgian athlete who died on our mountain that day. He was the same age as my brother. Rest in peace, Nodar.

It's one of those rare moments in the history of mankind when it's possible to believe that all men are brothers, when fraternity and unity are not just abstract concepts, but tangible realities. More than the triumphs, more than the memories, this is what I hope we will all carry home from these games.


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