Watching the opening ceremonies tonight of the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games was so moving for me. I was literally brought to tears several times throughout the night by the bold, sensitive images, and the strong, proud words that so eloquently demonstrated what it means to be Canadian. From the computer-graphic-illusion of killer whales swimming across the floor of the stadium, to the beautiful cultural mosaic of First Nations and other dancers and musicians, to k.d. lang's heartwrenching rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", I was again and again in awe and wonder at the beauty and creativity that humanity is capable of, and which can so easily be forgotten in light of the crimes against humanity and the environment that we know are committed daily and which usually occupy the forefront of the media and of our minds.
Tonight was about celebration. It was about peace, and about sharing the Canadian spirit with the world.
Now, I have to admit, I have never seen an opening ceremonies before. Often, when people have talked about the games as symbols of peace and unity, I've nodded at the suggestion and gone on with my very un-Olympic thoughts and responsibilities. I didn't get it. Until tonight.
There are two moments in particular that will stay with me for a very long while. First, slam-poet Shane Koyczan's powerful delivery of his poem "We Are More" captured some of the most poignant subtleties of the Canadian identity. Canada has often been criticized as a nation without identity, or which defines itself in terms of how it differs from the United States. You can find the full text of his poem here - but this is one part that I loved:
some say what defines usI love this - I can feel it turning into art in the back of my mind. (I'm sure this will be featured on my blog in the near future!)
is something as simple as please and thank you
and as for you're welcome
well we say that too
but we are more
than genteel or civilized
we are an idea in the process
of being realized
we are young
we are cultures strung together
then woven into a tapestry
and the design
is what makes us more
than the sum total of our history
we are an experiment going right for a change
The second moment was when Rick Hansen wheeled the Olympic torch into the stadium - I felt my heart flutter. My brother Jeffrey has profound mental and physical disabilities; Rick Hansen and the understanding and goodwill he has championed have always been revered and celebrated in my family. For all he has done for this country, and for humanity, that triumphant moment was so well-deserved. What an exciting, beautiful moment when the silhouette of Rick in his wheelchair appeared through the white light of the entrance. Ahhhh. It was exhilarating!
So, what did you think? Are you as overwhelmed as I am, or do you just think I'm a sap? ;)
I was a little worried about this post as it seems off-topic, and perhaps, even out-of-character for a blog about the pursuit of scrappyness. This is what it's all about, though, isn't it? Writing and scrapbooking are about pursuing and capturing those moments that make you who you are...and these were moments that articulated an important part of who I am as a Canadian.
Thank you for allowing me to explore this moment with you. :)