the olympics & radiohead (or, the yoga of efficiency)

08.08.08 marked the start of August’s excitement for me for two reasons: Olympics and Radiohead. I can’t get enough of either of these.

ribbon dancing imagined by frank the tank.

The Olympics hold a special place in my childhood memories. The games syndicated on NBC meant that us kids were allowed to eat our dinner in front of the TV. As a youngster my favorite event was gymnastics (or, if it was winter, figure skating) and I would watch in silent reverence the supreme skill of these compact, muscular athletes. Since I “dabbled” in gymnastics (by that I mean I could do a somersault and that’s about it), I would retreat to my room or the garage to practice my moves and my interviews with Bob Costas so that I’d be ready for Olympic competition in four years.

Dreams of gymnastic glory long gone, I now watch the Olympic games with a different eye. “Efficiency” is the word I keep coming back to when I think about what the Olympics mean. And not just in herding spectators in and out of the Opening Ceremony stadium, but also accounting for all of the performers and herding them on stage in an appropriate order, making sure the t-shirts are stocked and neatly folded in every gift shop and that the numerous food courts will not run out of Coca-Cola products. Maybe that’s a weird thing to think about. But imagine all of the work it took to make this come together.

And also, the efficiency of the human body. Thanks to yoga and some basic knowledge of anatomy, what’s really captivating me are the bodies of all the athletes. Think about how efficient they must be in storing and expending energy at just the right moments. And how much each athlete depends on that efficiency. Efficiency is dependent on nutrients and muscle mass and overall wellness, but it is also learned through discipline and repetitive practice (resulting in muscle memory), as well as mindfulness.  The human machine is nothing if not a miracle. It’s humbling.

(SL NOTE: an interesting article about yoga in the Olympics is here.)

the new pornographers at all points west.

The other big August event was the Radiohead concert in Liberty Park, New Jersey, part of the All Points West Music and Arts Festival. This was a big event for my husband and I because we both generally support the principles that Radiohead stands for and agree that they are pretty much the best band of all time. It was also a big event because it required us to leave Manhattan. By boat. Once we landed, it rained for about 30 minutes before the skies cleared to blue and turned into a perfect day, culminating in a perfect show by the perfect band.

just another show for girltalk.

We tried to prepare for what could be the worst of an all-day music festival: water bottles, sunscreen, a small beach towel, vegan energy bars, sweatshirts, umbrellas, Band-Aids. We had an escape tactic for when the show ended as we imagined loads of people rushing toward the boats to get back to Manhattan. Hyper organization and anticipating all scenarios of various emergencies did not serve me, though. At the end of the event, which was totally painless and surprisingly efficient and really pretty great, what I realized was the things you can’t control – the weather, for instance, or the number of people who want to crowd around the stage just like you – are likely going to happen whether you prepared for them or not. You can’t control how much rain falls or for how long when you’re standing in a field listening to Mates of State, but you can control your reaction to the rain. You can accept it or you can resist it. Either way, it will fall. But your happiness level is yours. For me this is both equally freeing and frightening: I get to choose to suffer or not, but I cannot blame it on someone/something else. And in the end, the rain will pass. And it did.

the magic that is radiohead.

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