Last night, my husband and I sat down on the couch together (kind of a rare occurrence since we don’t have cable and are usually doing something on the computer), and we watched the Opening Ceremonies for the 2012 Olympic Games in London in its entirety. I was really looking forward to it. I knew nothing about what to expect, but I was sure it would be quite a show. We had actually planned to put the baby down before the broadcast at 7:30 p.m., but he simply refused to go to sleep. Eventually, we decided to just let him stay up and watch with us.
Neither of us are big on sports, but we were theatre majors in college, and the opening ceremonies is basically a big stage performance. And a very opulent one at that! We marveled at the set changes and the fluidity of the incredibly enormous cast. It must have been a blocking nightmare! Years ago, though, I would have given my right leg to be able to stage manage such a show.
D and I both thought it started out a little… weird. But once it got going and it became clear that we were going through phases of London’s history, it started to make sense. And I loved the way the Olympic rings were forged and then rose out of the stage and into the sky. And the special effects! Wow.
Of course, the musical performances were all phenomenal. Rowan Atkinson was brilliant in his comedic piece during Chariots of Fire. I adored the faithful cover of Come Together by the Arctic Monkeys (and I am not a Beatles fan). Paul McCartney is getting a bit old, but still a moving performance. He seemed — understandably — a bit choked up at the beginning of Hey Jude.
And the Queen’s entrance was awesome. Yes, it was very silly. But I’m surprised — and delighted! — that she was cool enough to agree to that. And it must have been awesome for Daniel Craig as a native Englishman.
All that to say, I was very pleased with the Opening Ceremonies. J and D both seemed to enjoy it as well. J stayed up way past his bedtime — he refused to miss it! Until the Parade of Nations began… Don’t get me wrong, I find it interesting as an adult, but let’s face it… that’s hands down the most boring part of the event. J got through the As and then I put him to bed. He slept soundly for the rest of the night.
As I said before, I’m not a big sports fan. I never played sports as a kid really (I was more of a ballet girl), but I can’t help but get swept up in the excitement of the Olympic Games. I likely won’t watch a lot of events, and my enthusiasm will probably fade in a couple of days. But I love the idea of the Olympics. It makes the world seem so much smaller — gives us all a common goal and friendly competition to distract us from the real conflicts going on in the world, if only for a couple of weeks. The sportsmanship the athletes display is inspiring. And watching the Parade of Nations is a reminder that there are other people in this world — many from countries I had never even heard of — who care and have worked hard to achieve something. Anyone can relate to that notion on some level. Many Olympic athletes don’t stand a chance — but they still made the trip and are representing their countries with pride. It’s not always about the reward — sometimes the journey is just as important.
And I love that everyone in the USA is, for once, rooting for the same team. We’re not divided by state or city lines — we’re all a part of this one great country, and we have some incredible athletes representing that spirit.
I’m glad J stayed up for the opening ceremonies. He won’t remember watching them, and he certainly has no idea what he witnessed last night… but some day I want him to learn to recognize the things we have in common as human beings — regardless of country of origin, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, political leanings. We’re all human beings and the Olympic Games, for me, demonstrate that through the collection of the greatest athletes from around the globe. Everyone is given a fair shot at the gold. And I think the same should be true in regular, every day life.