You must have seen it? If you haven’t seen or heard about Paula Findlay then you must be living on an island somewhere without a television, computer, Twitter, or any number of multimedia devices.
Paula is my hero. I watched as she made her way across the finish line and I wept for her. I wept for the pain she endured in a brutal sport, the triathlon. I wept because here was a young woman, 23 years old who wanted to quit, who was exhausted and spent and emotionally distraught, but she continued on her quest.
For her that quest consisted of hours of training, discipline and hard work. Giving up so much of her young adulthood: late night parties, bar hopping with friends, sleeping in until noon. You know the usual things the average young person does. For this young woman those things could wait.
It is the Olympics, the dream so many young athletes aspire to, the quest to be the best of the best, to show the world just what you are made of. Paula Findlay did just that. The courage, the sportsmanship, the honour she showed in that race was for me the most emotional and exhilarating moment so far in these Olympics in London.
A petite red haired girl, Paula’s peachy complexion and soft braids conjure up the image of Anne of Green Gables. Anne was a feisty, fiery red head whose tenacity and strong will never abandoned her; a classic Canadian icon. No doubt Paula will become another Canadian icon who showed the world that we are a people of substance.
For me Paula showed us that it is worth it to take on the battle, to fight for what you want or need, and that you do it through the pain, even in defeat. She is for me a symbol to all of us, for all of the battles we fight daily. The battle to fight our addictions, to find meaning in this so beautiful and often-horrific thing we call life. To see beyond the horror and to triumph over the injustices and the suffering that lie in wait around every corner.
I see her as this beautiful young woman and as a metaphor for life: struggling and sacrificing everything in order to run this one race, to live this one life. She gave it her all and finished last. And that doesn’t matter. For most of us who watched her race that was not what mattered. What mattered was that she carried on, even in her pain, and I could identify with her as she crossed the finish line, weeping and apologizing. How often do we find ourselves in the same position, struggling to continue on even in our pain, apologizing for our weaknesses and weeping for the loss of what we were hoping for? Such a profound and beautiful analogy that Paula gave us and one that will stay with me for quite sometime. I thank her for that and I know her struggle to carry on will continue. Her training will bring her back to focus on the Olympics four years from now. Will she be stronger then? No doubt she will. Will she win? For me that is not the issue. It’s not about the winning because what is important is that we play.
Paula’s story for me is about life and how we play the game. For me this woman has showed the world that even in defeat and absolute misery there is joy, and isn’t that really what life is all about?
Lisa Nordén, Paula Findlay, Andrea Hewitt by MartinPutz (Own work) – Creative Commons – Wikimedia Commons
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