Okay the title comes from one of my favorite albums by Live- But the subject matter today comes from the Olympics-
I’m somewhat of a fair weather fan- but I do like to catch a little bit. My youngest son Andrew is pretty much addicted to watching and so I spent some time with him last night watching the men’s downhill and the figure skating. There are a lot of great stories that occur during the Olympics- defeat, triumph, perseverance, endurance and so much more.
Last night a particular story really caught my attention. And today there has been a bit of talk about it on the news as well, thus it obviously affected a lot of people much the same way.
So Bode Miller got his 6th medal. That’s cool. More than any other U.S. skier. Also he is the oldest Alpine skier to medal. Also cool.
But the attention getter wasn’t actually Miller, but Christen Cooper, a two time Olympian and silver medalist who interviewed Miller right after winning his Bronze. Miller was obviously in an emotional rush from having just accomplished his feats. But his success is also impacted by the loss less than a year ago of his younger brother Chelone. The younger Miller, also a skier was a hopeful for Sochi as well. He died of a seizure, not his first since sustaining a head injury from a dirt-bike accident several years prior.
Cooper met Bode Miller on the slopes. She asked him how he was faring emotionally with his brother not present. He tried to discretely move the topic to the current events. Cooper persisted as if she had no ability to read his attempted social redirection. Finally, she opened up the big gun (quoted to the best of my recollection) “So when you are out there and you look up at the sky, you seem to be talking to someone- What’s going on in your mind?”
With that Miller cracked. He started to cry. She moved towards him to give him some comfort- He turned away. He walked away. He dropped down on one knee trying to pull himself together. A teammate approached him and was rebuffed by someone on the sidelines, the first person to see that Miller needed to be LEFT ALONE. Finally, his wife arrived on the scene, embraced him and shielded his face from the crowd.
I can’t imagine what was in the mind of Cristen Cooper to make her think this was an appropriate approach. But at the same time, I can’t imagine why NBC chose not to edit the coverage leaving Bode’s tearful reaction to be dealt with privately.
There were plenty of things Cooper could have asked Bode Miller. How does it feel to be the oldest guy out here? How do you continue to perform at this level? How have the sport and the games changed over your long career?
But instead, making him cry over something that was obviously so deeply personal for him became the mission. And the network found it appropriate and significant to make it a display and a highlight.
Miller came out afterward in defense of Cooper. He tweeted the response ” “Please be gentle w Christin Cooper, it was crazy emotional and not all her fault.” What a classy guy.
My purpose here is neither to vilify Cooper or NBC. Okay, well maybe a little bit, because frankly I found it revolting. But it made me think about how “normal” it is to report and focus on the juicy stuff. How many times did Justin Bieber get in trouble in the past couple of weeks? How many stars go to rehab? How many deaths occurred, houses burned down etc. etc. Even my own blog in its infancy already contains a report about the death of a star. Drama attracts. Drama sells.
Okay realistically, no one wants to turn on the news to hear that “Mrs. O’Leary’s garden is producing a beautiful bunch of tulips this year.” Or, little Nancy Turner got her braces off and her smile looks fantastic now. But do we really have to fill ourselves with a steady diet of other’s vulnerability and shortfalls in order to feel good, or at least “normal”? More importantly, it is important- no it is crucial that we are at least mindful of how much negativity we take in from our “regular trusted sources”. How can one feel optimistic and hopeful in the world when we have spent much of the day feeding on negative messages.
And it’s not simply the news. It’s everywhere. Marketing often focuses on something that is a shortfall, in order to make the product a solution. I remember one night watching late night TV and thinking by the end of the infomercial, that I might need a garden weeding machine. It was to solve the problems of my back caused by doing it all by hand with a hoe in rocky soil. Fortunately, just before placing the order I remembered that I didn’t have a back problem OR a garden. Nor, was I planning to plant one any time soon. On the other hand, I do have rocky soil, so I am still vulnerable.
Yes it’s Sunday, and that means I have more time to wander through this post. But in attempting to pull it all together now, let me get to the main point. If you want to feel good, you have to surround yourself with positive, hopeful, optimistic people, places and things. If you instead, surround yourself with negative, hurtful or critical people, it’s really hard to feel anything different than what you are taking in. And you have to be thoughtful about what you are taking in. Even well meaning, trusted people in your life can sometimes be the source of saying the not so helpful thing. They might be uninformed, or having a bad day of their own.
Listening to yourself is the key. Listening to your own voice as a louder tone than the ones you hear with your ears. And that reminds me of the movie “The Help”. Remember the mantra that Aibelene repeated throughout the book/movie to the little girl Mae Mobley?
You is smart, you is kind, you is important.
She wanted the little girl to know that at her very core in case anyone (most likely her mother) ever said or behaved in ways that suggested otherwise. Aibelene wanted Mae Mobley to have that message as her very core and as the voice she would rely upon. I hope it worked.
If you know that is your core and you live with that type of awareness, then you also have permission to let go of people, places, things, and sometimes just words that don’t fit your model. You can acknowledge, just like Bode Miller did “it wasn’t her fault”. He obviously knew that Cooper’s poor choice in interview strategy, was in fact just that”. He elaborated that it was an emotional time and that the emotions were his. He didn’t give her the credit for “destroying him” or even bringing him to his knees. He held his head high and made the drama as less dramatic as he possibly could given the circumstances, rather than adding fuel to the fire. And for that alone- I think he deserved the gold!