The First Lady
A Tribute to Clara Hughes
What is the measure of man – or in this case - woman? It certainly isn’t the destination. That is only the goal. Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant. The real measure is how you undertake the journey to get to it. In that, Clara Hughes is a true champion, truly the first lady of the Olympics.
In the last Winter Olympics, I think Clara was skating in the 5,000-meter event when she won a silver medal. At the end of the race, she totally collapsed from exhaustion – I mean really collapsed. She arose, as in a dream and her victory shone all over her face. But it was not the victory you might think of. I mean, the silver medal was nice but that wasn’t it at all. It was the fact that she had commanded her mind, her spirit and her body to deliver up everything within her, leaving nothing behind – and had achieved it – that was the pinnacle of her achievement. ‘I am alive,’ she said, almost surprised.
Later, when she stood on the podium with Cindy Klassen, an equally accomplished and younger skater, the euphoria spread and Cindy, somewhat confused at first, couldn’t help but be swallowed up by it.
Then, just yesterday, after her cycling time trials ended in a fifth place finish; she had accomplished the same thing. She said with simple candor that she had given it her all, had emptied herself of everything she had, and was now satisfied. I take it to be the truth.
My children are all older than Clara, but I’ll tell you, she is a hero and role model for me. Every chance I get; I talk about her amazing spirit to my grandchildren as they pursue their dreams. Mind you, that doesn’t get me very far, but I try.
One of my grandsons plays football that way. When he was in high school I said to him, he should attack his school assignments the way he plays ball. Politely said, he just kind of laughed at me. Therein lies the rub. It’s the difference between doing what you love and loving what you do. There needn’t be a dividing line between the two.
Certainly Clara provides a model for us to demonstrate to our children of what they can accomplish, and the incredible rewards of the journey. We should pay attention, listen and learn from the first lady of life itself. At least that’s how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.