It’s not quite 7 a.m. and you’re on the bus heading home from the bank where you’ve deposited a cheque that will tide you over for another few weeks as you continue to look for a job. You sit on the unmoving bus, wondering why you aren’t getting anywhere. You stare out the misty window into the interminable Vancouver rain, and sigh for the hundredth time that week. This is not where you wanted to be. This is not who you wanted to be. This is not how you wanted to live. You never wanted to be stuck on a city bus at the crack of dawn so far from home. Well, the crack of dawn part isn’t so bad; you love the crack of dawn. You’ve loved the crack of dawn since that first morning on the Ottawa River when you began learning how to row, when your dream of Olympic gold took its first step towards actual possibility. You revelled in the smell of river. The hope. The rush of competition. The dream. Then life happened, and you let go of the dream. You let the dream die, because life was tough enough without a pipe-dream like Olympic gold. That’s when you see them, the reason why you’ve been stalled; the police cruisers crawl by in procession until you see why they’re clearing the road. It’s not a diplomat or a prisoner transfer, it’s more important than that. It’s a solitary runner carrying something you suddenly recognize. A flicker of hope. The Olympic Torch. The hope, the rush, the dream, the smell of the river – it all rushes back in an instant and you realize that the dream, the spark, is not dead, it was never dead, you simply didn’t have the strength to tend that fire. Now, it’s bursting back to life, rushing back into your heart with a possessive ferocity you never imagined possible. Maybe the dream – your dream – isn’t to win gold. Maybe your dream is to cure cancer, or to work for the United Nations, or to build the solar-powered car. Maybe your dream doesn’t require skis or skates or a snowboard. The important thing is that you keep dreaming, that you don’t let that dream die, or that, if life forces you to let go of your dream, you know when to let that dream rush back into your heart and consume you like wildfire. That’s what the Olympics are, that’s what they represent: that eternal flame, that unquenchable dream that is alive in all of us. That the world can be a better place. That we can succeed. We can win. Be it the seven-year-old watching his hero make a stunning glove save, or the forty-seven-year-old watching her daughter nail a backside 720 on the half-pipe, or the seventy-seven-year-old couple watching a new generation of cross-country skiers wax up their skis before the team sprint, we all have that dream. We all need that dream. That spark. That flame. That torch.
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