Shani Davis went to Sochi as the two-time defending gold medalist in his signature event – men’s 1000m long-track speed skating. He was favored to win his third consecutive gold medal.
Similarly, Shaun White went to Sochi as the two-time defending gold medalist in HIS signature event – men’s half-pipe snowboarding. He was favored to win his third consecutive gold medal.
I haven’t been paying all that much attention to these Winter Olympics, but I know that both men are leaving Sochi without a medal of any color. They went from the top of the mountain to the depths where the rest of us mortals live. Just when they thought that they had everything all figured out, they came to realize that things are a bit more challenging than they suspected – even in the very confined world of their respective disciplines.
Without intending to be sacrilegious, it made me think of Moses in this week’s Torah portion. Moses had already brought down a Pharaoh with the Ten Plagues and parted the Red Sea. Next, he was on top of Mt. Sinai, talking with God and receiving the sacred text that would bring order to the world. Then, he came down to find the Israelites reveling with Golden Calf, he smashed the Two Tablets and Moses was forced to accept that his job was a little more complicated than he had suspected.
It is helpful for the rest of us to be reminded that even for elite athletes and great historical figures, there are – or were! – highs and lows in life. We shouldn’t be surprised when we experience the same.
For example, just today, there is that feeling of satisfaction that comes with digging out from a massive snowstorm. Then, of course, there’s that sinking feeling that comes with the knowledge that several more inches are coming tonight and we get to start all over again in the morning.
So, whether it’s an athletic competition or the functioning of our team at work, whether it’s digging out from this endless winter or any other challenge we may face – let’s not let ourselves get too high or too low. Let’s just keep moving forward as best we can.