You have seen her: The gymnast precariously perched on the balance beam curling her toes trying hard to stay upright on the beam seconds before she slips off. You have seen him: The gold medalist Olympian returning to defend his record only to fall into seventh place during the final seconds. The Olympics, for the majority of those who walk in the parade of nations at the opening ceremony, will end up being the deathbed of their deepest held dream.
I think about all of the dreams that go into the Olympics – thousands of dreams coming from every corner in the world and merging into one event. I think about how hard it is to accept that a dream you hold may not come to fruition, for those moments in life when you have to accept defeat, and for those days when you realize that a dream is simply just not within your control.
Every day in my office I see dreams come undone. From the day a person asks or answers the question of marriage with a joy-filled heart, the dream begins of joined lives spent aging gracefully together. This dream expands and grows through each passing anniversary. Then one day it disappears with a divorce filing.
Divorce is the culmination of a major life dream lost. Divorce shatters the multitude of many dreams that were a natural extension of the life dreamed up together. There are dreams of raising your children together in the same house, dreams of a retirement location, dreams of having a hand to hold when treating for a scary medical diagnosis. These lost dreams are painful to accept. The disappointment runs deep.
The Olympics do not resonate with me because of the dreams realized by the champions. The games inspire me most because of the majority of athletes who do not win. To see the gymnast fall on her head during a tumbling pass gone terribly wrong and return soon thereafter to perform two vaults in the hope of allowing her team to further qualify. To see the runner with a hamstring injury fall to the ground after leaving the blocks to rise again and have his father walk him to the finish line. The stories unraveled on repeat every four years of the spirit that rises up behind and beyond the dream once lost is the power that sustains the Olympic games. It is the power that sustains me in my divorce practice because I also see that in my office every day.
I see men and women, swallowing disappointment, picking themselves up, and taking action to get back up. They move forward despite losing a life dream. Not only that, but they persist in creating new dreams. To me, they are the champions.