For those who don’t keep up with celestial events, this morning was the super blue blood moon. For the first time in 150 years, a lunar eclipse coincided with a blue moon and a super moon, making for one super duper blue (but also red) eclipse moon. I don’t know much about astronomy, but seeing this thing sounded like a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I just so happen to live in one of the best places in the world to view it.
One issue: the time to see it was going to be at 6:30 in the morning. And if I’m gonna see a super blue blood moon, you best know that I’m gonna see a super blue blood moon on top of a mountain, making my wakeup considerably earlier. Last night, after our initial enthusiasm to get out and see the event, my buddy and I began waffling over whether or not it was worth it.
Alpine starts are extra hard for people with multiple jobs and little sleep, we said. No one else is going, maybe we shouldn’t, we said. There’s a 70% chance of cloud cover and we might not even see the thing, we said.
Screw it, we’re doing it, we said.
So up we went, early birds with cameras in hand to experience the super duper mega moon in all its glory. We were of the few, the brave, the gutsy to seek out the lunar event hours before sunrise. We were also the few, the foolish, the disappointed when the mega moon found refuge behind equally super clouds, leaving the rest of us in the dark with not even a glimpse of its red mega-ness.
And this, folks, is when I thought about the Olympics.
In the last week, teams across all winter disciplines were named for the 2018 Games. The nominations resulted in a flurry of elation and despair, as shoo-ins and underdogs searched to find their spot on the list.
I surprised myself in a coffee shop by bursting into tears when I learned that I did not make the team.
Let me be clear: It was unsurprising that I did not make the Olympics. In fact I could not make it because I am not ski racing this year. That seems fairly straightforward. Pure logic. While I had a 30% chance of seeing the super moon this morning, I had a 0% chance of making the Olympics in 2018. It’s science.
But what was surprising were the irrational feelings, the tinges of regret, when my name wasn’t on the list. Turns out, 10 years of dedicating yourself to a singular goal can’t be erased by nine months in the “real world”. After a day of near hysteria (there was a point where I had drawn out a plan for my debut in #Tokyo2020), I realized that, although I fully value the lessons, friendships, and experiences I gained in my ski career, part of me (a bigger part than I thought) just wanted something to show for it.
I realized that it wasn’t necessarily the Olympics I wanted. It wasn’t the training, or the racing, or the starts, or the experience. It was the jacket.
I didn’t want the Olympics. I just wanted to be an Olympian.
It took me a while to write these thoughts down because I’m not particularly proud of them. They’re shallow, misguided and miss the philosophical point of athletics, which (I like to think) is pretty off brand for me. I’ve always touted the value of trying over succeeding, and I felt disappointed when I wasn’t living that mantra. After several days of conversations with folks in and out of the Olympic world, I’m back to the old me. So buckle up.
The thing about making (and not making) the Olympics, as I see it, is that you have to truly believe that you can make it–whether or not the chances are good. You have to believe it and you have to voice it so the reality of the rings becomes so true to you that you push through those days of doubt and drops in probability and the belief of others. I lived my life this way for a long time, as did many of my peers. When the odds weren’t good, we had to say screw it, we’re doing it lest we miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prove our naysayers wrong. Last week when I realized that I would never be an Olympian, I was overwhelmed with disappointment, sadness, and disillusionment over what I perceived to be the major (and oddly delayed) shit storm that is the marriage of self-deception and failure.
And that’s how I found myself this morning, on top of a mountain at 6:30, in the dark, grieving the loss of something I never really had. I was in the middle of thinking that I would have nothing for Instagram from this stupid super moon, just like the darn Olympics, when my friend looked out across the lights turning on in our sleepy town and exhaled, “So beautiful.”
And it was. With total cloud coverage, the entire valley was completely black save for the covered lights of our main streets. We could see snow cats working their way along the ski runs, and traffic beginning to flurry north for another work day. We were seeing something that so few people do, another extraordinary moment that we can all find if we are brave enough to seek it.
I think part of me will always struggle in Olympic years. But I hope that those feelings of loss grow smaller as the other parts of my life get bigger. Because, ultimately, I’m not all that bummed about missing the super duper moon. I can look at pretty pictures of it on the internet and celebrate the folks who did get to see it, because I can share in at least one part of their experience. As I drove back through town, I managed to catch a glimpse of the moon through a sheer layer of clouds, and my god was it spectacular. Even as a sliver, even from afar.
Sure, I have nothing to show for the morning but my own thoughts and reflections. But, if Bitcoin has taught me anything, we’re in the age where intangibles are a worthy, albeit risky, investment. So next time the envy, and regret, and flurry of irrational “what ifs” roll in (I’ll probably dive into another bout of hysteria) (but then) (hopefully), I’ll know that that the biggest, most threatening “what if” in my life is “what if I had never tried?”
I hope to someday accomplish something bigger than the Olympics (which, to me, means anything from ruling the world to having a kid). And when I do, I can guarantee that I’ll experience many more disillusionments and failures, but it will have been my original goals, my Olympic-sized passion, that gets me there, not resentment or regret.
For now, I’ll keep chasing super moons. And, as always, GO TEAM USA.