I have to admit…I love the Olympics: the drama, the struggle, the discipline, the competition, the celebration, the pageantry, the anticipation of a 2 week extravaganza where my family agrees on what channel to watch on the big TV, that happens only once every 4 years.
But this year seemed different. Whereas in previous years I sat in blissed-out wonderment and stupefaction at the skill and facility of the individual competitors, this year I find myself really contemplating what these athletes are doing. I mean, for heavens sake, we cheer on our countries in pride and oggle buff bodies, and to and fro they go in a swimming pool. That’s it. These men and women train daily for years for the chance to race each other in a swimming pool. Or beach volleyball: grown men and women run around in the sand and keep a ball in-bounds and in the air. And we watch completely mesmerized…
I have a point I’m getting at, just bear with me… I’ve been, as I’m sure lots of people have during these economic times, really contemplated WHAT THE %&$* AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE? I’m an actor, a director, a writer, a producer, but what am I really doing? This year was tough… it’s been the first time since I got out of grad school and started my time as a professional that I haven’t made enough $$ to qualify for SAG insurance next year. Yes, I did get some good work and my career is still moving along, and yes, I’m busy with my theatre company and other projects, but I’ve been feeling like I have nothing to show for it. (Luckily, I got married last year and have a husband so I’m not starving but it’s been a real blow to my ego = lesson in humility.) I should be able to fend for myself! I should be able to make money! I should be contributing to society! I should be able to support my growing unborn child and at the very least get us insurance! WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING? I should go back to school! I should become an educational therapist and help kids learn! ACTING IS SO SELFISH!!!! So selfish to just want to act! Who do I think I am that I could go do this?
So, after I calmed down, or more like my wonderful husband calmed me down and reminded me that we are a team and I don’t have to be so proud and egotistical and take everything on myself… after all that… the Olympics arrived.
And I marvel at these athletes. Do they wonder about their purpose? Do they wonder at what they are doing playing badminton or pingpong or volleyball as a profession? Do they feel selfish? Do they ever wonder if they are contributing to society? And it hit me.
Wait. These Olympians, they discovered some talent that they then honed, to represent their countries with pride and leave a legacy in history. Because they can.
And me, I have discovered my talent: I’m a storyteller. And I don’t just tell my story, but a collective story. And by virtue of my identity, an Asian-American story. Because I can. Because I have a need to reach another human being. Because I have the ability to create a story. And maybe I should learn to wear my talent with pride. And maybe my legacy won’t be Olympic in proportion, but I just might make a difference and be an inspiration to someone out there. Or, as my husband reminded me, to someone in here: “JC, we’re having a kid now. What kind of role model would you be if you just gave up on your dream. It’s been a tough time for everyone. You can’t give up now.” Hm… OK… By pursuing my dream, I can inspire someone to pursue theirs. I guess that’s Olympic after all.