Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tears of Mixed Emotion

Sometimes we all just shed tears of mixed emotion. This was certainly the case for me tonight... I watched a short highlight DVD of the Beijing Olympics that my parents gave me for the holidays.
For those of you who don't know...Beijing was the most magical and fulfilling experience of my life! I fulfilled my dream of becoming an Olympic Gold medalist. What's more, I felt like I was a part of something bigger and more meaningful than anything else I had ever experienced...I represented the United States of America on the world's biggest stage. I never would have imagined how emotional and incredibly proud I would be to wear the Stars and Stripes...it was literally life changing for me. For the first time in my life I realized the Olympics was more than a sporting event. The Olympics was a time when all nations could set aside their differences for two weeks and enjoy coming together to watch the world's greatest athletes take the stage and compete. I had never and may never again be exposed to an environment that seemed so pure, so positive, so focused on perfection and so hospitable to others who don't even speak the same language as you. There was a sense that everything was right with the world. It was truly magnificent!!!

Imagine watching a DVD of something you lived through. Now imagine this time period being the most amazing experience of your life. Imagine being in the movie. Imagine a soundtrack that exudes inspiration, triumph, defeat, emotion, love, and a sheer will to win. Now you get an idea of what the scene was like in my room as my eyes were literally locked on the TV. I began watching while stretching my hamstrings on the floor. By the end of the DVD I was about three feet closer to the TV and crouching down on my knees with my hands on the floor in front of me. My heart rate had spiked while my brain had simultaneously released tons of adrenaline deep into my veins and muscles...I was ready to explode with excitement. I was enthralled. This was one of those times we've all experienced when you really don't want the movie to end.

While this was unbelievably exciting for me to watch I had some feelings of sadness as well...the Beijing Olympics are history. For me, watching and in a small sense reliving these moments that had surrounded me in Beijing was like thinking of the most perfect day...the day when everything went right...when the weather was perfect, the food was spectacular, the company was second to none, your expectations were exceeded...you were the happiest of your life and don't know if it will ever get any better...and you can never go back. That day can never happen again. You will never relive that experience. The only thing left is the memory that is in your mind...and that memory tickles your mind like it wants you to come back and relive some more but there is no possible way. This is the sadness I feel.

As I sat in my room I shed a few tears of mixed emotion. Tears of the happiest moment, the highest high, the dream come true and the tears of knowing that experience will never come back again...I will never be able to relive or go back to the Beijing Olympics.

So tell me...how would you feel?

Is this absurd or is there some legitimacy to my feelings?

I don't know?

As the year of 2008 comes to a close I think more and more about the best year of my life. The year I graduated the University of Texas, finally got my high blood pressure under control, had a great Olympic Trials and Beijing Olympics and finished it off by spending more time with my wonderful family than I had in years:) I wonder if there will be better years? Of course there will be. There will be different experiences, different joys and triumphs... I guess the difficulty for me is the uncertainty of not knowing what/if or when any of these things will happen.


Anonymous said...

It's called “Quarter-life Crisis.”
They even have books related to this very subject. I think i might have to go pick one up myself.
Oh and i so stole this off some other blog but i think it fits.

It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are many things about yourself that you didn’t know and may not like. You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now.

You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren’t exactly the greatest people you have ever met, and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones. What you don’t recognize is that they are realizing that too, and aren’t really cold, catty, mean or insincere, but that they are as confused as you.

You look at your job and it is not even close to what you thought you would be doing, or maybe you are looking for a job and realizing that you are going to have to start at the bottom and that scares you.

Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging more than usual because suddenly you realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and are constantly adding things to your list of what is acceptable and what isn’t. One minute, you are insecure and then the next, secure.

You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused. Suddenly, change is the enemy and you try and cling on to the past with dear life, but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away, and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward.

You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you. Or you lie in bed and wonder why you can’t meet anyone decent enough that you want to get to know better. Or maybe you love someone but love someone else too and cannot figure out why you’re doing this because you know that you aren’t a bad person. You go through the same emotions and questions over and over, and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision. You worry about loans, money, the future and making a life for yourself and while winning the race would be great, right now you’d just like to be a contender!

What you may not realize is that every one reading this relates to it. We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out. Share this with your twenty-something friends, maybe it will help someone feel like they aren’t alone in their state of confusion.

We call it the “Quarter-life Crisis.”

Sharon McCully said...

Wow, sounds like a truly incredible thing to have watched. Spectacular and dazzling. I can only imagine - actually I CAN'T imagine how that must have felt.

I've had some pretty amazing experiences in my life, nothing compared to being an Olympic competitor mind you. But some days, and moments that stood out in time as moments that you'll never have back, but are singly etched in your memory like wax on a seal. Being highly competitive, I've been to that place.

I don't think it's silly at all to cry some tears of mixed emotion. That's how it should be. Happy that it happened, and saddened that it will never happen again. Not exactly like it played out before, anyways.

Life is living for those moments, and the journey between. And don't forget that journey is sometimes better than the destination.

Big things lie ahead. And the excitement and agony of it all - is not knowing what those things are, or WHEN those things will happen...

Anonymous said...

Garrett- I read your blog "Tears of Mixed Emotion." You wanted to know if any of us could relate/understand... yes, I can (on a smaller scale). I swam in the 1986 Empire State Games. Empires are an annual summer Olympic-like venue for many different sports over a week-long period with opening/closing ceremonies similar to the Olympic venue. To qualify, a swimmer had to place within the top 2 for their event. I qualified for several events and therefore competed at Empires as a Hudson Valley "delegate." The highlights aired on television afterwards with the theme song "Never Surrender" by Corey Hart. To this day, when I hear that song on the radio, I become filled with emotion (mixed emotion as you say). But I want to tell you, that you CAN relive those days in Beijing b/c you carry the memory with you in your heart, mind and soul. You have a DVD for visual reminders. You have friends and lasting relationships made at the games. And when you ask if you will ever be that happy again? I can say, without a doubt, YES! You will have many more thrilling days yet to live in your life. They may be different than the Beijing days, but as equally happy, joyous, outstanding, life-altering nevertheless. There are momentous life experiences that are still yet yours to savor. You will get married and experience that incredible moment of love and a promise of a new life shared together. You will have children and experience that moment when you hold your child for the first time in your arms, when you hear that first cry, when you look into their eyes and see the depth of your soul reflected back at you. There are many more profound events in your life yet to be experienced, each shaping and molding who you are to become. Enjoy the process. It is a privilege. Do not feel uncertain if these things will come your way. If you are willing to be open to receiving, then you shall.

In the meantime, if you feel bittersweet about the Beijing Games, then I say embrace that. Those feelings are themselves a gift. It is a reminder that you are human, and what you had the unique opportunity of experiencing was indeed special. Life is complex as are our feelings and reactions to it. How dull our world would be without all of those intricacies and complexities.

I hope that this was a source of at least some help, comfort, benefit to you.

Happy New Year,

Anonymous said...

i can connect to this. hearing a song played at graduation or from a touching movie or a song that was a favorite at a time of transitions in my life: breakups, great accomplishments, etc. also, just hearing the date September 11, 2001 bring tears to my eyes. im sure all of us remember exactly what we were doing that morning.

i recently saw the titanic exhibit and imax at the milwaukee public museum and in the imax the scientists in the sub exploring the great disaster that was titanic come back to the ship above sea but document the days findings in the sub ending with "today is sept 11, 2001". everyone in the audience reacted to that. that brought tears of mixed emotions because here are men studying a horrible accident that killed 1500 people and they come up to find that terrorists have killed 2400 people in the united states.

i think any event that holds significance to anyone can bring tears of mixed emotions when those memories are recalled

C-Bone said...

I think it makes complete sense. Now of course I've never done anything really worthy of making a highlights DVD about but there are always times when you reminisce about a great experience. While you're happy remembering the greatness of it all, it's really very sad because you're remembering it rather than experiencing it. It always seems like the best moments have such a long period of time leading up to them but the actual moment, as great as it is, goes by far too quickly.

As hard as it may be to go through these peaks and valleys of dealing with how you feel about Beijing, at least you know were a part of something very few people get to experience. You'll always have that. And that's just a fact - no emotion involved.

Lauren Ashley said...

I totally understand what you're talking about. Along with those feelings of reliving the happiest day(s) of your life, there's also the feeling that you didn't know it was the happiest of your life - or you didn't realize till reliving it just how happy you were.

:) It's normal, it's natural, and as heart breaking as it may be sometimes, it's still amazing.

I for one am extremely proud of you - it's true, Beijing is history... but the fact that it's history means it's part of our history - it's happened, and we got to experience it!

More so on your end - you were a PART of it! It's true, it's over - but if it hadn't happened already, you wouldn't have the chance to look back on it... you know?? It's kind of bittersweet, but in the end, I think the good out weighs the bad.

You did a great job at Beijing - and you should be absolutely and magnificently proud of that.

There will probably always be moments when you look back and wish the best moments of your life weren't over... but at least you have those memories to bring a smile to your face, and a tear to your eye.

2008 was an intense year - full of endings and beginnings for me, and it seems it's been that way for a lot of other people as well. Maybe it was just one of those years... but I know that I for one am absolutely greatful for the chance to be able to look back at the year - the good and the bad - and be able to say, yeah, all of that happened - but I got to watch Garrett and the rest of the US Team Lezak France.

I don't know if I've ever said told you this before - if I have, I apologize - but I had ONE Olympic memory. One memory where, when I look back at it, I can replay it in my head as if I was watching it take place in front of me. It's that clear - and that was when Keri Strugg landed on one foot and secured a gold medal for the US Gymnastics team... I was 4.

I have no doubt that, in 16 years, I'll be able to say I have 2 Olympic memories that I can look back on with extreme clarity, as if I was still there. Keri Strugg and her one legged landing, and Garrett Weber-Gale and the Olympic Team defeating France. :)

Happy New Year, Garrett. I look forward to another amazing year, and eagerly await the next Olympics. :)

Sarah said...

This will be short because no one can possibly tell you how you should feel about anything so I will tell you what someone told me once, "Don't cry because its over, smile because it HAPPENED."

You've experienced something that will forever change your life. I think it would be absurd to feel any differently than you do. With monumental events come monumental emotions.

Here's to 2009. : )

Alyssa23 said...

I think we all still get a little teary-eyed when watching that relay.
Young adulthood(age 18-40) is the hardest stage in life that anybody will ever go through. When I left High School, I cried when it was over and i wondered what I could have done to make the experience even better. Even now in College I cry because, I'll admit, I'm a tad scared of what the future holds. But i do know that I want to become a Sports Medicine Specialist and someday make it to the Olympics:] So, it's normal to feel what you are feeling Garrett, because at some time or another, we all feel it.

Isa said...

What you're feeling is natural....
Through our life we will always have something that will make us remember an experience that might, sometimes, make us cry or laugh....a family video, a picture, etc.

About the future no one can tell us the person that we will be, until then the only thing that we have to do is make our dreams come true and try to be happy...

In my opinion this was the best year of the olympics....
The swimming transmission was at 3 am in Portugal and I was always watching...it was amazing...

Live the present and don´t think to much in the future...

Happy new year and that 2009 bring us good and new experiences!!

Donna Binkholder said...

That's amazing!!! Being at the Olympics and representing your country does change your life. It will shows the true meaning of, "United We Stand, Divide We Fall!!" Everyone comes to get for two weeks and it's a really great thing. It's great to get emotional because you were there you got medals and you have memories that you will never be able to replace and you can go back to Beijing. Maybe also it's the fact that you are living up your dreams that you realize how did I get here and need to take a step back to gather your thoughts and memories. Have something to look forward to and many goals makes the challenge and memories all worth while, and sometimes it's hard to believe that it happened but it did. .Also, you took the test and challenge and stopped at nothing and didn't care what others said and that's amazingI am so proud of what you have accomplished. You are a role model and inspiration to others. Just keep on keeping on.

Donna Binkholder said...

Also, I forgot to say I would totally be emotional. I am even when I break my personal bests or when I receive awards for the activities I am in. It's the sense of accomplishment that gets me.

Miss Melanie said...

It is a sign of your emotional health that you are so self-aware of your feelings. I think what you are feeling after such an amazing experience is completely normal.

I've had "mountaintop" experiences and deep valleys in my journey of faith this year. The journey of faith is sometimes referred to by Christians as a race. Paul, in Phillipians 3:13-14 says "I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me...one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

I'm not sure you ever truly forget the past, but there is so much in the future to look forward to!

Rae Shue said...

There is no absurdity to your feelings. I understand because everytime I see myself in the uniform of the United States Navy and the video of my PiR, I get the same way. There is something about representing your country, whether in the Olympics or in the military or whatever, that brings out the patriot in all of us.

The pictures I look at of me in uniform bring out the same emotions: Pride in what I was doing, Joy in what I was accomplishing, sadness and regret when I realize I can no longer relive those days...that part of my life. There is the wish that I could go back to that day...that time...that part of my life when I felt like I was on top of the world.

I can only imagine it would be triple the feelings as an Olympian.

It's natural and very common. So, it's legit. :^)

I hope that you never lose those feelings when you look at the DVD in the future.

Soly said...

I felt the exact same way too when I saw the opening ceremonies and highlights of the Olympics this past Saturday. When they showed the highlight of you and Michael screaming after you all had won the race, I just re-lived that moment.

I can even tell you what I was exactly doing when I saw the race for the first time in August. I was in my room, anxiously watching each of you all swim. For those moments, I didnt leave my room or the tv, I just sat there on my bed watching each leg of the race. I can proudly say, that I enjoy watching swimming. I havent really been into sports, I watch a little basketball, but thats all and for me to now say that I enjoy watching the sport swimming is an awesome feeling for me.

I cant wait to see the sport of swimming get bigger.

Happy New Year Garrett! 2009 will be bigger and better for you! :o)

Adin said...

Dude i can imagine. What you did was unbelievable i can totally imagine you feeling those emotions. Hope you continue to swim for many more years, ill be rooting for you- Adin Gosine

Laura H said...

I have been there Garrett - the first time I made the National Team and the first time I won in a Challenge Cup between US and Mexico. I remember every point of the match and you are right it is a mixture of sensations - happiness, sadness, and for me it was now that it is over - will I ever get that feeling back.

You do get that feeling back but you have to work harder to get it. You understand how you need to set goals for each season and how when you achieve those goals you set new ones.

Be careful though and learn from my mistake of chasing trying to get the feeling back instead of trying to achieve new goals - you can't do the first without achieving the second. If you don't, you start to live in the past and trust me - it is not what you want to do - you miss out on too much.

It is great you have the DVD to remember Beijing. Just think of the DVD you will have from Roma '09 Worlds sir! It will be better!

KZA said...

This is going to be weird. What I have to say is nowhere new any kind of uber-intellectual disquisition. Here goes nothing..haha

I may not have contributed to the history that had been made in Beijing, but I did witness much of the glory on TV with my family. I was moved as I watched the greatest athletes of the United States represent our country and took particular notice to the genuine camaraderie that existed amongst you all. I remember after the phenomenal 400 free relay, you, Garrett, gave Jason, Cullen and Michael each hugs strengthening, in my mind, the bond you shared. The intensity of the dedication that you and all the athletes have for your respective sports made any sort of “strenuous” training the common man goes through seem so petty.

It meant so much for us viewers to watch more record breaking performances after 4 years since Athens, but it means so much more for the athletes with their debut or repeat performances in this global sporting meet for which they have spent their whole lives in preparation.

Anyone can agree that the epic proportions of the ceremonies and athletic performances in Beijing were unprecedented and may never be replicated. Left to the athletes are unique memories that may never be duplicated.

The fact that those experiences are ones never to be relived deepens their sentimental values within you. I know I cried as I watched the highlights DVD my parents had given to me, because I had seen the history in the making on my television only months ago and knew the events were never to happen again. Knowing that you were actually THERE IN BEIJING, I can imagine that the feelings that overcame you were nowhere near those that overcame me. However, if were in your places, I am sure I would feel the same way. :)

As the others before me, I shall have to agree that there is nothing absurd about your emotions as you relived your Olympic experience. 2008 was truly an epic year, and I’m sure 2009 has only more great things to give!

Happy New Year, Garrett! I wish you good health and prosperity for you and your family in the years to come!! :)


Garrett said...

Wow...literally, Wow!

I can't thank all of you enough for your heartfelt and insightful comments.

It is really intriguing reading your ideologies about life and what the future may hold...

I look forward to rereading your comments and new ones that may appear...They have been very helpful.

Thanks so much! This interaction is truly priceless:)

Donna Binkholder said...

Your welcome Garrett. It's awesome the accomplishments you have achieved, it shows that anyone can do it if they put their minds to it.

Sjtientje said...

"...Beijing was the most magical and fulfilling experience of my life! I fulfilled my dream of becoming an Olympic Gold medalist. What's more, I felt like I was a part of something bigger and more meaningful than anything else I had ever experienced..."
You achieved something great, something people look up to. But we all have to realise that the things we do, the goals we want to reach and accomplish, the emotions we feel...they are more similar than we think. And it is scary. That's why we rather look back with sorrow at what has been. It gives a feeling of security. You know what you did, you know how you did it, you know how it felt. But what scares you the most is the feeling of never being able to repeat something like this. And you never will, because the next time that great thing will be reached with other means, under other circumstances, perhaps with other people around you and the emotions are there, just like then.

I could write a lot more...you really got me thinking....but I'll save it for my own blog ;)

Sjtientje said...

Oh....and a happy New Year to you all........

Blaise said...

Garrett your feelings about the Beijing Olympics are definitely warrented. This past summer was clearly a tremendous experience and the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. The description of your feelings remind me of how I felt as a viewer of the Olympics. The event was full of moments that are unlikely to be repeated (especially that spectacular 400m free relay.) But I guess that is life, we continue moving forward and although our experiences change, our memories are forever carried with us, and are something that can't be taken away. Also as a young althlete you never know what the future has in store for you! Good luck, continue working hard, and I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog.

Nicole said...

That's the most amazing blog entry you've ever written, I cried just reading it and remembering how each of the races in Beijing affected me, you said everything that I've been trying to figure out how to write down for the past few months. Obviously to actually have been a competitor in one of the greatest races in history, is more than I have done, and is mind blowing just to think about, but I still felt the same passion, my heart still raced as if I was there in the water too, I still felt sick with nerves hours before the races were due to start, and I still felt the same pride in you and all of the athletes who competed.

Only at the Olympics can this kind of clarity happen, and it reaches so many people, and to think that you may never experience that again, is increadibly sad.

So I don't think it's strange to have those feelings.

Garrett said...

Donna, you're right...put your mind to it and you can too become an Olympian.

You're right nothing will be the same as before but there will be many other great experiences!

Memories will definitely live forever

Thanks for the amazing words...that blog definitely came from my heart. Who knows, I may be in London and try to do something great there too! For now I'm just thinking about Rome and swimming fast there:)

Donna Binkholder said...

It may be a long shot for my to make it to the Olympics, but hey I am not gonna sit around and wonder if it is a long shot or not. So I get up and do something about it to get there. I am training a lot and have meets in February. I don't have a coach yet but I am going to open meets to then I can build up on everything start out with college to work up to Olympics. I am shooting for 2012 because that's a goal of mine and a dream and I will try to get there and if I fail 2016 here I come. I also found out that an American women has never received a gold medal at the Olympics and I want to be the first to do so. It is so true. The mind controls everything. Anybody can do this with the right dedication and attitude. If you don't have that mindset to do it, then it's not worth going through with it. It should not have to be forced out of you. You should do it because you want to.

Donna Binkholder said...

Me* sorry can't type today

Garrett said...

Great attitude! I hope you find a coach to help guide you to your dream.

jng12 said...

Garrett, I don't think what you're feeling is absurd at all. Everyone's scared at some point of the future and what it holds.

I think there's always ups and downs in life, and that's the beauty of it. If life was a completely smooth roller coaster ride, it wouldn't be as good as it is.

Hope you have a good 2009!

Donna Binkholder said...

Thanks Garrett!! That really means a lot and I appreciate it. I hope to find a coach too. I have faith I will though.

Donna Binkholder said...

ok let me rephrase that sentence in shot put..i just realized I was incorrect I feel stupid..hahahahaha

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