There are but a few moments in my life that I can look to where I truly lived completely in that moment and lived it to the fullest. One of those moments was just prior to stepping onto the track at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. 8 years before, I was an alternate on the 1996 Olympic team and 4 years later, despite having one of the highest jumps in the world, I failed to make the US Olympic team. Over the course of those 8 years I had gotten married, got a job, been promoted, then laid off, lost my father, and somehow managed to keep the dream alive of being an Olympian.
I had been to the world championships in 2003 and my performance was not near what I had wanted it to be. Either the nerves or the stadium or the crowd got to me. I had let the outside in and not kept my head straight. I vowed to myself as I sat at the American University in Paris that the next year, the Olympic year, it was going to be different.
So there I sat, waiting at the check-in for athletes at the Olympic Games. It was hot and muggy, it was noisy and I was surrounded by a group of gladiators that I had seen in battle before. People I had respected for their talents and abilities. For the most part, this group of warriors had competed better than me at nearly every event. But this year something was going to be different. I had made up my mind in the year preceding this event that I was going to be ready, I was going to be focused, I was going to be ready for war.
We moved to the next area as the officials checked our spikes in our bags to make sure that we didn’t have anything in there that we shouldn’t have. Then the moment arrived that we all had been waiting for. The moment where we would walk onto the track to represent ourselves, our country and our sport. We all were standing in line pregnant with anticipation for the competition to begin. I was sitting just outside the tunnel as I walked into the stadium and looked up and saw a stadium filled with people from all over the world. There are not enough words that can describe the emotion and the feelings that come to you in a moment like that. As I reached down and touched the Mondo track I said to myself “so this is the big show, now it’s time to go to war”.
As I look back and reflect on those 60 seconds I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if I didn’t take the time to breathe at all in, enjoy it, and then move forward with my mission. So as you look at your life right now and you think about what possible moments you could have, think about how you will respond when you get there. Will you take the time to enjoy it? Will you get lost in the emotion of it and lose your dream as a result? Will you take the time to breathe in and then go out there and have the best day of your life? My hope is that you’ll have the best day of your life. We only go around once so make your moments count.