All In All Is All We Are

I'm Sorry, handwritten note

There used to be a TV show on when I was a kid called Happy Days. It was a situation comedy about the olden days of the Fifties. I think was a spin-off from a pre-Star Wars film by George Lucas.

So there was this too cool character that was named Fonzie. He was so cool that even more cool than his slick leather motorcycle jacket and perfectly stacked Brylcreemed hair was his title. The Fonz.

The Fonz was very tough, most excellent with the ladies, respectful to the adults and able to extract music from the jukebox in the diner via a well-placed fist. He was also papally infallible. Seriously. He was damn near perfect.

He was so utterly faultless that his vocabulary could not accommodate words that would conflict with that reality. He physically could not say the word wrong or the word sorry if the words preceding those nouns were I am.

This was difficult for The Fonz, because nobody is actually without sin. It just doesn’t work that way. So when an extremely rare occasion of error or omission occurred, he was unable to use his words to express himself.

And yet somehow, without specifically saying, “I was wrong,” or “I am sorry,” it was clear from the context and his emotion that he was admitting his offense and acknowledging his failure. This was because his character was indeed sorry. Not pretending. But for real.

This is in contrast to the parade of non-apologies, abdication of any responsibility for wrong doing, and contortions of language to obscure any rational admission of fault that I have been listening to over the past week.

Why is it so hard for people to admit that they done effed up, when they, as a matter of fact, effed up? Parsing the meaning of the word “is,” is frankly unacceptable. Sorry about how someone feels isn’t the same as being sorry for what you did. Technicalities, skirting of the truth and sleight of hand is skeevy and inauthentic.

Even if he couldn’t say it directly, you knew exactly what The Fonz was saying. That he was wrrrrrrr… and that he was sssrhrrr… He meant it. Be like The Fonz.

Once in a Lifetime

Look up. At the light. From the ceiling.

Yesterday a woman threw herself. Some say that she dove. I didn’t see that. I saw her hurtling her body to cross that line first. And she did.

I find people who do not appreciate her effort to be missing the point. She came to win. She was excruciatingly close. I felt excruciated for her. She may have won the race without resorting to a headlong fling and the attendant skinned knees and arms. Maybe not. Shaunae Miller, of the Bahamas, literally put her whole self out there in the 400M. She was there to win, like all the athletes. She went extreme.

Another woman put all she had out there to win. Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan competed in her seventh Olympics. The first was in 1992. She’s 41 years old. For number seven, she not only qualified, but competed well enough to be a finalist in the individual vault competition.

Hers, like all gymnasts, is a skills and math problem. If you have the ability to pull off a very hard vault, your rewards spiral upwards via a formula. More hard = more points. Chusovitina knew that her competition’s knees were younger and springier, but she wasn’t in Rio to observe. She was there to medal. Her strategy ? Do “the vault of death.” Seriously. It’s a vault that her lithe, fresh rivals think is too dangerous to risk. But harder increases point potential. Gauntlet thrown. She didn’t hurt herself, nor did she medal. But Chusovitina laid out everything she had. She didn’t just come to play. She came to win.

I got chills watching Miller’s dive at the finish. I held my breath and found myself on my feet clapping as I saw Chusovitina fly, flip and flame. These, and so many other athletes, are the reason that I watch the Olympic games. To see the determination and the drive of these Beasts. Some are going to win. Some are going to lose. But every athlete is there to reach their goal. Not to try, but to do.

I find myself asking, “Doc, what do you want? What will you do to get there?” Win or lose, make it count. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same. As. It. Ever. Was.


Medalist in the 100m backstroke, Fu Yuanhui (China) Kylie Masse (CAN), gold medalist Katinka Hosszú (Hungary) and (USA) Kathleen Baker.

You win a gold medal at the Olympics, you feel joy. You stand at the podium with any medal around your neck, there is joy. For many athletes, finishing their event brings joy. They are achieving long-standing goals. They are competing on an elite stage.

There is the inevitable local news coverage after an event. Athletes–especially athletes from big national news markets–are regularly prepped with words of wisdom and platitudes. To say the right things, thank the right people, to be poised and humble, and to certainly hold your hand in the correct position when your country’s national anthem rings out.

The strongest expressions of joy you see is a fist pump or an air box. You see beaming ear to ear grins. You see teammates gripping each other in bear hugs. You see overwhelming tears of gratitude, relief and, perhaps, joy. Once you saw someone take off her jersey and fall to her knees. That was an unusual, unscripted and primal display of joy. It was the exception that proved the rule. Pump, grin, hug or cry. Those are the acceptable norms.

And then you see the pure and unabashed joy of Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui. She is most definitely having a good time. It’s as if she was never given the advice to “act like you’ve been there before.” She’s not acting, she is being.

She was blatantly amazed and pleased by her bronze medal swim. She learned of her time from the interviewer and brought her hand to her wide with surprise mouth. She as much as said, “I swam that fast?!”

She hops up and down like a kid on Christmas morning, all the time. It’s like she’s acting out. Acting out her very huge feelings of glee and the soaring of her heart. At least for this Olympics, she’s not willing to tamp down any of her feelings of wonder and delight.

I could watch her most natural joie de vivre during every Olympic break. She loves being there, and she loves sharing that in the most obvious ways. You don’t need to interpret her. Why hold back, she asks us all? Don’t act like you’ve been there, act like you’ll never be back.

Damn, I love this woman.