Follow Your Heart- The Olympic Edition

English: A color guard wearing Revolutionary W...

English: A color guard wearing Revolutionary War costumes participates in the opening ceremonies for the 1984 Olympics. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Olympics always hold my attention. I love the games. I love the stories about the athletes and I love watching them perform.

I have great respect for the people who have devoted themselves to becoming the best in the world at a particular event. There is something beautiful about it all. Without a doubt I would give quite a bit to be able to say that I competed in the Olympics.

That would be something special. That would be a story to tell and I do love a good story. I love the tales that take me away and make me feel like I am a participant in a great adventure.

Friday night I watched the Opening Ceremonies and was struck by something as the athletes marched in. Almost all of them looked like babies to me. I don’t know what the average age is but I bet it is somewhere in the early twenties which would make me around twice their age.

There are definitely exceptions to that. Bob Costas mentioned that one of the athletes from Andorra is 61 and has been competing since 1976. Maybe there is still hope for me. 😉

Follow Your Heart

Midway through the march into the stadium I wondered how many of the athletes are in it because they are following their heart. I wondered if some of them are doing this because it is all they know how to do. I expect that it is not the case for quite a few, but certainly there are a bunch that are “professionals.”

What happens to them when they can’t do it anymore. What happens when they have to change focus and walk a different path.

I suppose that you can attribute that to where I find myself standing in my own life. Not long ago I spent long hours questioning what it was I have been doing and where it is I want to be going. I sat up on multiple nights and tried to provide some clarity for what I want to do with myself.

The point was to figure out a destination and then put together a path to get there. It seemed like a good combination of logic, heart and intuition.  So that is what I have been working on, following my heart.

Words That Move Me

Take a look at this excerpt from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essay on Self Reliance:

“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. “

“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

I love that. I can read that over and over and find meaning in it.


It is 40 years since terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich games. The IOC refused to provide a minute of silence in their memory. It is shameful. I was quite pleased to hear Bob Costas talk about this during the entrance of the athletes into the stadium.

This time of year always makes me think about a bunch of different things.  Some of those are covered below. If you read them you’ll notice there are some similarities between them but ultimately they are different.

She Wants A Telephone

My daughter is working hard to convince me to buy her a cellphone but it is not going to happen. I told her that 8 year-old girls don’t need a phone and that if she wants to call her friends she can use the land line, but she was less than pleased with that response.

She loves soccer so I told her if she works hard she might have a shot at playing in the Olympics one day. She asked me how hard it would be to make that happen and I said ‘hard.’ No need or reason to lie about it.

Just before bedtime I mentioned it again and said that if she wanted to do it I would do my best to help her but she needed to figure out if she wanted to do it to follow her heart or because it sounded good.

It is bedtime here. Going to sleep with ideas about opportunities and possibilities. Going to sleep knowing that I am doing what I can to follow my dreams. That feels pretty good.

(Visited 116 times, 1 visits today)


  1. AdrienneSmith July 30, 2012 at 8:22 am

    I’m horrible Jack so don’t get upset with me but I’m not into sports at all.  I don’t watch the Olympics or the news for that matter so I really don’t have a clue what’s going on.  I know, I’m not patriotic but I really am and I agree with you, I wonder how many are doing it because they want to follow their heart and aren’t pointed in that direction for greatness.  My Mom is addicted to it though so she tells me what’s going on.Your daughter is 8 and wants a cell phone.  Good for you Dad, happy to hear that one parent isn’t giving their child everything they want.  Good for you…  So, do you think she’ll make the Olympics one day?  Enjoy your week Jack.~Adrienne

    • TheJackB July 30, 2012 at 11:47 pm

      AdrienneSmith Hello Adrienne,I don’t have a problem with your not watching the Olympics. I think it is great but I don’t expect everyone to like everything I do. The world would be a better place, but we can’t have everything. ;)I don’t know if my daughter will compete or not, but what I can say is she is learning to appreciate what she has. Even if I could afford to give her everything I wouldn’t. I want her to work for some things. It helps build character and gratitude. That is important to me.

  2. Mark_Harai July 28, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Mr. Emerson had a way with words that will live on forever… Thanks for sharing Jack.Following your heart is key to finding fulfillment and happiness. Once you discover what it is you were created to do, you won’t go to work everyday – you’ll get up to go play with really smart people who are creating the future for the rest of the world.Have a good weekend sir!

    • TheJackB July 28, 2012 at 11:22 pm

      Mark_Harai The first time I read any of Emerson’s work was in junior high and I hated it. But that was because I didn’t understand it and consequently it was work.Not anymore. Now it is tied into that place you mention, fulfillment. I sense and see things there that resonate with me. So I am doing my best to to do what I was born to do because as you said there is no work after that.Hope you are enjoying your weekend too.

  3. Mark_Harai July 28, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Mr. Emerson had a way with words that will live on forever… Thanks for sharing Jack!Following your heart is key to fulfilling your destiny and being happy. When you discover what exactly you were created to do, you won’t work another day of your life… You’ll go out to play everyday with people who are creating the future for everybody else to experience.

  4. Hajra July 28, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Every time I watch tennis on TV, I get the same feeling. I just have to learn it and then be playing it professionally. There is something about games and sports. And yes, the Olympic team spirit is something I always admire.And yes, don’t get the little girl the phone. 8 is just too young! 😉 My nephew is 5 and he wants an iPhone… because “everyone” has it… my sister is still figuring out who “everyone” is….

    • TheJackB July 28, 2012 at 11:22 pm

      Hajra  Do you play tennis now and if not, are you going to learn how to play?That Olympic spirit is easy to admire. No worries about getting my daughter a phone. I gave her one of my old ones, but without the service.I don’t care if she plays with that one, but she has no need for a real one. Doesn’t matter to me if ‘everyone’ has on or not. I am in the same place as your sister. 😀

  5. KDillabough July 28, 2012 at 4:32 am

    Jack, I’m sure you can imagine how I felt watching the Opening Ceremonies. It never ceases to move me, and I re-experience the emotion of being immersed in something very special, each and every time I watch the lighting of the flame, the raising of the flag, the taking of the oath.Yes, there are many detractors who will talk about what is “wrong” with the Games: the doping incidents, the “pros” who really aren’t amateur athletes, the “waste of money” on the spectacle…But as one who devoted much of her life to the pursuit of excellence, both as an athlete and a coach, I can assure you this: the VAST majority of those fresh young (and not so young) faces are living their dream. They are doing what so many of us can do, and often choose not to. They’re living a life to be the best they can be. It isn’t about competing against others. It’s about personal best. And that will always be what I, and those I work with, strive for. Cheers! Kaarina

    • TheJackB July 28, 2012 at 11:17 pm

      KDillabough Well you lived a dream and I think that is awesome. I was a good athlete and like most there were some sports I was better at than others.Somewhere around the time I turned 18 I began to wonder what would have happened if I had been given the opportunity to devote myself to one of those sports. What would have happened if I started playing soccer at 5 and kept going. What would have happened if I received extra training and special coaching.Would I have been good enough to go farther? Would I have been able to leverage my talent to take me places that most never reach.I don’t know, but I think it has become common for parents to try and provide “answers” to some of those questions now by providing the extras I mentioned. I am not sure that it would have been worth it and I haven’t pushed for it for my children.Does that make me a good father or a bad one.I think those questions are tied into the current challenges of battling a win at any cost mentality that exists in some places.But I do appreciate and enjoy watching those people who are doing for the love of their sport and the chance to live their dreams. That is outstanding.

      • KDillabough July 29, 2012 at 4:52 am

        TheJackB Jack, I know there’s a big difference between providing opportunity for our children and living vicariously through them. I’ve watched too many parents push their children into things for the parents’ needs, not the childrens’. I know that’s not the case for you, because providing those opportunities, encouraging children to stay with something that they’re good at and show promise in, is quite different than the parents I encountered who were actually hurting their kids by having them pursue a parent’s dream, not the child’s. I could give many examples of athletes we released from our program because, even though they were talented (although not gifted or super-talented), just did not want to do the sport. If the child/person doesn’t have a fire in their belly (and that doesn’t mean they don’t have days that they don’t want to practice, say they “hate” the sport, etc. Those things are transitory when they’re infrequent), and a passion to pursue, even on their “off” days, it really isn’t their dream.No looking back, my friend. You are where you are today, and that’s awesome. Cheers! Kaarina

  6. bdorman264 July 28, 2012 at 4:02 am

    What if whatever you do defines you to such a degree it’s almost impossible to turn the ship. And to take it a step further, what happens when you can no longer do what defines you. I feel that is what some are seeking in social; that one defining moment so they can say they have arrived. What they are missing is the journey and then what do you do once you’ve reached the top? Personally, I would love to be an Olympic athlete and enjoy the experience. I would gladly put my life on hold to make it happen. Maybe we can find an event for the ’16 games, huh? Got your e-mail; I will check out the link. Good luck…..

    • TheJackB July 28, 2012 at 11:12 pm

      bdorman264 I have thought about this quite a bit. I can’t imagine life without writing or frankly not being able to play ball. But we know that every athlete reaches a point where they can’t perform at the same level they used to.I would think that for professional athletes it is very hard to get away which is why we see so many forced into retirement.Sometimes I wonder what sort of differences there would be if we could make the games in ’16 versus having participated as soon as we were eligible. Would we have been as excited at 16 as we would today?Somehow I doubt it, but maybe I am wrong. Would be cool to find out. 😉

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You may also like