My favorite Olympic moment occurred Sunday night.
It had nothing to do with the history made in the swimming pool or the dream team on the basketball court. It wasn’t the Walsh and May-Trainer dynamic duo in beach volleyball or America’s sweethearts in gymnastics. It happened so fast I almost missed it. Only 46 seconds, followed by a quick interview, before newscasters and videographers moved to other Olympians, events and news.
When the men’s 400m semi-final race appeared on our television screen, Troy and I stood in our kitchen cleaning a counter full of dishes. As he washed and I dried, we watched the Olympics. But the moment Oscar Pistorious took his lane and prepared to start, we abandoned the dishes and walked into the family room slack-jawed.
“Is this the para-olympics?” I looked from the screen to Troy, confused.
I’d missed the pre-Olympic stories about Pistorious, hadn’t heard a word about him. Until that moment, when I stared at a man climbing into the starting blocks with two carbon-fiber prosthetic legs where flesh and bone should be.
He doesn’t have any legs.
I blinked. Blinked again. It’s inconceivable for a double-amputee to run with the world’s fastest able-bodied runners. Inconceivable he would survive one race let alone all the races leading up to the Olympic semi-finals. Inconceivable he’d overcome all the opposition and the thousands of reasons to quit.
But that is precisely what happened. When interviewed following the heat, Pistorious said he’d set a goal to place in an Olympic semi-finals. And, although he placed last in his heat, and 23rd out of 24 total semi-finalists, he did it. He ran his race.
I could hardly move after those 46 seconds. Neither could Troy. We stood in our family room, dish towels in hand. Stunned. Speechless. Utterly inspired.
As I returned to the kitchen, I thought of all the hard races I’m attempting to run: writing a book, blending a family, speaking publicly, mothering teenagers, building a marriage, growing a business, helping three littles to heal …
And then I thought of the many days I’m tempted to quit, give up my race. Every week—every week!—I wonder if these impossibilities are too hard, too much, too big for someone with my weaknesses and disabilities. I think of how tired I am and all the ways I don’t have what it takes. The training seems too hard, the opposition too great, my talent too thin for the oh-so-slim chance of success.
But then I remember Oscar Pistorious. And carbon-fiber where legs should be. Running with enough heart for all of us in the 2012 London Olympics. And I think …
It’s not about what you’re missing, but what you still have.
Maybe you and I can run our race after all.
Are you tempted to quit? What must you overcome to keep going?