The Quest Begins
What really concerns me, however, is that rather than becoming more tolerant and compassionate a society we collectively have become anything but. Living in such a materialistic and consumer based culture where the have’s and the have mores reign supreme and the vast majority are left running on empty on the never ending treadmill is a recipe for disaster. Extolling the virtues of the win at all costs attitude has eroded our basic morals.
Aspiring to being number one regardless of the cost to one’s principles is in my opinion too high a price to pay. Attaining fame and fortune by manipulating, cheating or whatever less than virtuous intention leaves one a very hollow victory at best. There is no greater lie than the ones we tell ourselves…
I have been there and experienced the high pressure of fearing failure and letting others down. And unless you have a well-grounded sense of self and a value system which is based upon more positive assets and qualities the price of fame and success can take a huge chunk out of your soul.
Without a healthy perspective on our own self-worth and what adds true merit to our lives we can easily fall victim to the allure of fame and fortune. Through my own mistakes I now know that not all that glitters is necessarily gold. That there is nothing shameful in a valiant effort even if one falls short.
I have since learned that the true victors in life are not always the ones who finish first but the ones who never give up. Trying to find my own significance in life by making a mark at such an early age costly me dearly. I find far greater significance in my life now by helping others and in so doing have actually reclaimed it.
Living the lifestyle such as John and I do and as the old saying goes a rolling stone gathers no moss we have learned to travel relatively lightly. Rather than accumulating things in the material sense we have chosen to nurture and cherish the more intangible assets of our lives. The ones which need little maintenance nor space in which to keep. Experiences and memories which remain a part of us and come with us wherever we go.
It is probably hard for others to fathom but the medals and awards I accumulated over the years were never really that important to me in the physical sense. My joy came in the pursuit of them. As I once wrote to an aspiring little gymnast by the name of Tamara O’Brien “The dream sets the path but the joy comes in following it” I truly meant what I said. I knew instinctively that the medal or trophy was purely a symbol of the accomplishment and not the accomplishment itself. Over the years I have gladly donated various items of my sports collection to charities for their fund raising events. Some of my awards and trophies are in Halls of Fame which are stretched across Canada as well as in Florida at the International Aquatic Hall of Fame.
Last year I had the rare opportunity to go through some of our boxes in a small storage locker we have had for a while. It was so liberating throwing out all the old stuff that just wasn’t me anymore nor held any relevance to our current lives. Working my way to the back of the locker I came across a few tired old boxes which contained my remaining medals and awards. Neglected and soiled they seemed to reflect the parody of my life as an athlete. As I gazed upon their tarnished veneers a strange feeling overwhelmed me. Despite being hidden out of sight and virtually forgotten for so many years nothing could alter nor erase the history behind them and the hard work and effort it took to earn them.
In the same moment I sadly realized that they too were now outdated like my old clothes. They deserved a much better fate than I could give them. There had just been too much water under my bridge since those magic days of chasing my Olympic dreams of gold. Sport had changed so much over all those years but then again so had I. Even though I should have let it all go over 40 years ago I knew in that instant that our roads were to permanently part at last. It was there and then I decided I wanted to move on and that meant not only letting go of sport emotionally it meant in the physical sense as well. This time it would be for good. I chose to auction all my collection and put them to good use rather than have them slowly deteriorate in boxes.
I truly wished they would go to homes where they could be honestly appreciated for the achievements and history they each represent. I was now really ready to shed that one last thick layer of skin. The one that began with the Olympics and kept its suffocating cloak wrapped tightly around me for many decades. It was truly time to let go…. And since then I have never regretted my decision nor once looked back…
I am now happy to say that my Olympic medals went to a wonderful and kind collector in North Carolina. He, like us, supports many similar causes and we have now all become friends with much mutual respect for one another. He also assured me that those medals will at some point in the future be donated to wherever I wish and displayed for everyone to see. As some of my other memorabilia have already been kindly given to the International Aquatic Hall of Fame in Florida and with over millions of Canadians visiting there every year I feel that this would be the perfect home for them. The funds which came from my collection are now being used for many of the positive projects and causes which our near and dear to our hearts these days.