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The Day the Torch Came

February 11, 2010

Today I saw the Olympic flame. The flame that was light in Greece and carried by many torchbearers throughout all of Canada.  The thought of it boggles my mind.

I took the day off of work to see the relay, because, well I don’t think I need to explain. I’m so glad I did.

The day started out pretty normal, rainy of course, and Mike and I ran errands and then came home for a bite to eat before heading out to wait for the torch. We were lucky that it was going by only 4 blocks from our place, so it was easy to get to. Our corner wasn’t a timing point, so I didn’t know exactly when the flame would go by, but I was easily able to figure out about an hour window when it had to pass by sometime in there.  As the time got closer and closer to when we had decided to leave the house, I got more and more excited. I was literally jumping up and down and clapping my hands with joy. Mike laughed and took it all at a bit slower pace. We stopped to get Starbucks to warm our hands and then went out to wait with the crowds.

We arrived just as the police were starting to barricade off the road in preparation for the torch. The sidewalks were all ready crowded but we managed to find a good spot in the front row.  Everyone was laughing and talking, cheering and wagging flags as every police officer would drive by, or really anybody at all. (A cyclist somehow got on the street after the barricade was up but before the torch went by. Everyone cheered for him as he rode all alone down the rode. He raised his arms in victory as if he was in the Tour de France. Everyone cheered all the more.) We spoke with people on either side of us, comparing notes on what we had read about the torch relay, who we thought was running our section, what direction it would come from and other things. We helped take pictures of people and they took pictures of us.  The community felt like one whole and everyone fed from everyone elses energy and the excitement was everywhere.

Then it came. It took seconds, maybe a minute to pass by me, but it was breathtaking. Breathtaking to see, to hear the roar of the crowd, to watch the torchbearer wave and then continue on. Half a block from where we stood the flame was passed on to the next torchbearer, and as the crowd saw the two torches meet and exchange the flame they cheered even louder. I hadn’t thought it was possible.  Then I watched as the flame disappeared into the distance and on to the next leg of the journey.

Afterwards I was grinning from ear to ear, so was Mike, who had our flag draped over his shoulders. The crowd dispersed and headed back to whatever they were doing before hand. But we were no longer individuals who ignored each other on the street. We were united, Canadians, neighbours, people who after leaving grinned at each other and waved goodbye to people they had never met in their life. When Mike and I went to the grocery store afterwards we saw others who had flags of some sort in the aisles. They saw our flag and we theirs and we exchanged a smile of pride, knowing we had each seen the flame just moments before. Perhaps we will never see each other again, or perhaps we will forget each others faces, no matter what happens, in that moment we felt a spirit of unity, a connection with each other made stronger by a shared event.

That feeling is the heart of the Olympics. It’s not the games, the medals, the wins or losses. It’s the spirit, the uniting of people within communities, within cities, within countries and within the world.  My heart is still feeling expanded from today. Today I feel one with all people. That makes me feel small and in awe of how large and diverse the world is, but also large and strong knowing that I am part of this wonderful world and connected to everything.

We are all connected my dear readers. Everyone and everything is connected. And that is such a beautiful thing. Such a beautiful and lovely thing.

P.S. Simply Hue is having her Spotlight on photographers this week. Here is her post on me. Go and check out all the other talented photographers. Hurray!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 20, 2010 1:58 pm

    This is the best post. You described my love of the Olympics so perfectly. It’s not the medals or the wins and losses, it’s the spirit. I’m so happy you could enjoy seeing the torch.

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