I watched some curling yesterday. I like curling, and yesterday as I watched and cheered for the US Team to set up a decent block to protect the stone they had in the house in the Tenth End—yes, I had watched too much curling at that point—I realized why I like it more than, say, the Downhill Skiing. Sure, the Downhill is exciting—with skiers zipping along at break-neck speeds and cutting in knee-jarring angles down the treacherous path. But the Downhill is impossible—for me, at least. You see, I am no skier, so put me at the top of that hill and push me out the chute, and I would tumble down the hill like a bag of sobbing wrenches.
When I look at curling, though, I see a thing I could potentially handle. I’m not saying I would be good at curling because really who knows? But what I am saying is that the team from Sweden had H&M provide its curling uniforms. Curling is not some dangerous, rigorous thing beyond my scope of athleticism or preferred measure of safety. Curling, for me, is possible—get me to a curling house, or whatever it is called, and I could surely guide some stones along the narrow path.
So where does this leave me? Why does my ability to perform one Olympic task increase my fondness for it? And I think the easy answer is this: hope. There is a plausible hope for me as a curler—so I can watch curling and imagine myself on that ice, barking out commands or “supersweeping” with my own little brush. For most of the other winter sports, I have no hope whatsoever, so it becomes impossible to truly “take a stroll” in the Olympians’ skis. And this small distinction is why I watched some curling yesterday. Over on NBC, the Downhill skiing was on, with all its pomp and circumstance, but I chose to hang out on a sister station and watch normal looking men do a somewhat normal looking thing.
Hope shaped the choice I made as hope always does—it affects how we live.
I once read a snippet about two soldiers who were taken prisoner. They were confined to a wretched prison, tortured, and saw little chance of release or escape. The men were from the same nation, fighting in the same war, and were about the same age. They had led congruous lives, yet the first man eventually killed himself, while the other fought on, struggling for his now-miserable life, and eventually was rescued. So what was the difference between these two similar men?
Before being captured, the first man received word that his wife and children had been killed in a bombing. In the same report, the second man had been told that his wife and children had escaped the blast and were safely evacuated and relocated to a nation beyond the war. The two men were captured with very different mindsets, and, I would say, this made all the difference. The first man was hopeless while the second clung to the idea of reunion with his loved ones and hence to life itself; he had no outward advantage for survival, but he had an inner fortitude—he had hope.
And so it goes, whether we are fighting for life or watching the Olympics—the hope we have (or do not have) dictates how we feel, how we live, and the choices we make. We are guided not solely by chemical reactions to present circumstances, but maneuver through the day-to-day in light of what we believe is next (or ultimate). For some that is a bright and glorious future and for others it is a thoughtless void, but whichever it is, or something in between, it will play into how one deals with whatever is next in life.
I’m beginning to like curling. And the thing I am really growing fond of is that you always take your present shot with your next shot in mind. It is a sport chockfull of hope, down to the very last stone. May my very life be lived in such a way . . .