Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Taking the bit between the teeth.

I have a bit of a confession to make.

As I close in on the end of my 41st year on this planet, I find that there have been certain changes in my outlook over the years. Where I was once a fresh-faced teenager, filled with optimism and non-stop smiley face, the same can no longer be said to be true. I have gotten more cynical as I have gotten older. Where there was once optimism, there are now warning signs that the gathering clouds of pessimism will block my vision for ever. And, whilst I am not quite at the extremes of nostalgia that ignore all the good things that exist right now, I do often think that "things were better in my day".

I have become somewhat grumpy.

I am not just talking about in videogames, either. I am generally less patient with a lot of things these days. Let's take television, as an example. I hold out less hope for the human race with each successive plumbing of the depths that Reality TV brings us. Whereas we once had genuinely intelligent, witty, and talented people all over our screens, all it takes today is to make a tit of yourself to get invited on to the circuit of endless panel shows.

Movies, too, are much less likely to inspire than they once were. If it isn't a sequel, it's a remake. If it isn't a remake, it's a copycat. And if it is none of these, it is a vehicle for merchandising opportunities. Good movies still get made, but finding them amongst the volume that marketing generates is increasingly difficult.

And then, finally, we come to sports. Football teams are paid wages that entire countries could run on, to play fewer games than they used to. It all costs supporters more each year, as third strips are not just saved for the one possible time in a season that it may be needed, but are pushed into our faces as another essential buy.

But, suddenly, from deep in the sea of dross, we get the Olympic Games. Now, let us push aside the downright offensive sponsorship and advertising issues. These are absolute markers as to just how wrong the world has gotten, no question about that. But, let us take a look at the sports themselves.

Britain is doing quite well, it turns out. I like this, because I live in Britain. I can therefore bask in the reflected glory of some truly talented and dedicated individuals, and enjoy the "feel good" factor that is sweeping the country. I can take genuine pride in how well the Games are being handled, packaged, and displayed. For the first time in a long time, it feels GOOD to be British.

However, what I am going to take most from the Games is the sight of Oscar Pistorius competing in the Men's 400M race. Oscar had his legs amputated below the knee before he was a year old. In order to compete, he has had his feet replaced with metal strips that apparently are as close to the human foot as possible. Go, science! Ordinarily, such a person would compete in the Paralympic Games, but not Oscar. The International Olympic Committee decreed that anybody who can run the distance in a time under 54.07 seconds could compete. So, he did it.

A man with NO FEET ran 400 metres in a time that I, at my physical peak, could never have hoped to get close to! The stature of that achievement humbles me to such a degree that I can not find adequate words to describe it. If you ever want to see what human endeavour is capable of, then you need look no further. Faced with something that I am completely unable to understand, Oscar Pistorius didn't just sit back and accept his fate. Instead, he took life's challenge, and (literally) ran with it. Facing it head-on, he overcame his obstacles and ultimately competed at the very highest level.

Day after day, I have sat here and been bombarded with stories of inspiration. And it has had the effect it is meant to. The motto for these Games is "Inspire a generation", and whilst I am reasonably sure that this is meant to refer to the youngest of generations, I have decided that I will join in if nobody minds.

Oscar Pistorius does what he loves. He had a built-in excuse to just not try, but was not interested in that solution. I am trying to do what I love, but not anywhere near as hard as I should be. My excuses are all external, but I fear that I am just too ready to grab hold of them.

I need to work harder, and I need to be better. I have been quite slack as of late in my writing, and incredibly slack through my life at promoting it. If I really want to do this, I need to DO THIS. So, I write this by way of publicly shaming myself into action.

If you read this blog and think "I wish he would write more often", then this is for you. I am sorry. I will work harder in future. I will give you more.

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