It was with great eagerness, and I confess, a little apprehension, that our family sat down to watch the Olympic opening ceremony. With all the rumors and gossip surrounding the possible events in the opening ceremony, I was excited to see what the final product would look like. China's opening ceremony was breathtaking. The artistry was amazing, and I admit to being a little concerned as to what Britain was going to do. Lets face it, when faced with a challenge like that, we want to compete and do something even better, right? Well, I have to admit to hoping that England wouldn't try to compete with China. Why? Because they're England, not China. Whenever you try to "one up" someone else, you tend to diminish yourself in the process. China is really great at being China and doing things that China is really good at. Likewise, England is best when it is, and does, what England does best. After watching the opening ceremony, I have to say, England succeeded in just being herself. She celebrated her strengths, her eccentricities, her innovations, her uniqueness. I'm sure that there were many elements that folks did not appreciate, or just did not enjoy at all, but even that, is very British.
There was history, as depicted by the pastoral scenes moving into the industrial revolution and onto the world wars. There was culture as depicted by the nurses and doctors representing the NHS (National Healthcare Service) and the digital age segment. Also, whimsy, as characters from well known, and beloved, children's books were brought to life. There was tradition represented by the literal "passing of the torch" as it were, to the younger generation. But even more importantly, there was just a touch of levity. My favourite* moments coming from "Her Majesty" skydiving into the stadium and Mr Bean's performance during Chariots of Fire.
The Parade of Nations has always been the best part of any Olympics to me. It never fails to bring a lump to my throat. It's hard not to look at all the nations standing in one place. All different. All unique from each other. Yet, it's when I see us all standing there, shoulder to shoulder, that I can see just how closely related we really are. One can't help but feel deep and strong emotion when you see the world standing together in one place, celebrating our diversity. Especially when it's accompanied by Paul McCartney playing "Hey Jude" with millions of folks singing along. It births in me anew, the hope, that one day, we really will be able to learn how to share this planet with each other.
England's interpretation of the Olympic cauldron was equally touching in it's symbolism. Clover leaves representing each country participating, all brought together, lit by the next generation of athletes, and then raised for everyone to see. How magnificent we all shine when we all come together, don't you think?
*favorite is being spelt with a "u" in honor of the English Olympic opening ceremony ;)