Even in an empty stadium, the spectacle of the Olympics was amazing.

Okay, I was a little bah humbug, face-down-in-a-bathtub-full-of-vodka with my post yesterday. And for good reason. Watching the deleterious effects of climate change occur in real time is devastating. But today I decided to take a break from reality and tuned into the last bit of the Olympics from Tokyo.

I am not a big Olympics fan. Our oldest son, though, is a huge fan of them. He says it’s because there are a lot of varied sports, and it’s amazing to watch the best of the best competing against each other. I think it’s because he a student of the world and he loves the countries, the costumes, and the flags. Oh, the flags! At any rate, he had the Olympics turned on in our house from day one of competition. He turned them on every day. Often I would come out of my room and see him perched on the couch, and he would try to teach me about water polo. And as the days went by and I saw his excitement about them, I tuned in more, partially to spend some time with him before he heads back to college and partially because, dammit, he got me caught up in the magic of it.

I found myself tonight watching the Closing Ceremony in tears. I love watching the athletes relish their last Olympic moments because, after all the competition has ceased, they are finally free to relax and enjoy themselves. And before the Olympics started they were so busy training and preparing. The Closing Ceremony must be a huge exhale. But as I watched the ceremony, I kept thinking that despite the precarious state of life on this planet, we are all tied together and maybe we will yet be able to do better together. If we are able to hold an Olympics during a worldwide pandemic, maybe we aren’t doomed? And Paris 2024? Come on! We have to stay around for that. We can’t possibly miss that.

I found myself singing these lyrics from The Police tonight because they make the most sense about why I would watch the Olympics when I normally don’t:

“When the world is running down, you make the best of what’s still around.”

The Olympics are the best of what is still around. All these nations, all these athletes, participating together, celebrating together, working together, playing together. It’s the most optimistic thing we do as a planet.

What Difference Does It Make

Something British that I truly enjoyed last night
Something British that I truly enjoyed last night

“One must hop toward the light rather than sit in a shadow and wonder why it’s dark.” ~Bunny Buddhism

I’ve been a regular concert goer since I was a teenager. I saw my first concert (The Police on their Synchronicity tour) when I was 15 years old. My friends and I were in the rafters in seats labeled on the printed tickets as “Possible Obstructed View.” It didn’t matter. When Sting took the stage and I saw the tiny dot that was HIM, the magical concept of the concert was solidified. I was taken in hand by the spirit of live music. Game over.

Last night I had the opportunity to see in concert an artist I’ve followed since I wore black on the outside because black was how I felt on the inside. As much as I adored Sting and The Police (and I’ve seen Sting, either with or without The Police, approximately nine times), The Smiths were my anchor, Morrissey my preacher. Need a pithy lyric? I’ve got an entire cache of Smiths’ lyrics stored in my brain, the same brain that can’t remember my own phone number some days. After two failed attempts to see the Moz (he cancelled the shows both times), yesterday afternoon I started to believe it might be my night. I crossed my fingers and hoped the third time was a charm. Please, please, please let me get what I want. Lord knows, it would be the first time. To celebrate the evening’s potential, my friend Heather and I had dinner at the British Bulldog. We were taking this experience as seriously as Morrissey takes his PETA affiliation.

When he finally took the stage last night in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, all the self-inflicted misery of my teenage years resurfaced. The show started out better than I could have hoped with Hand in Glove. His voice was spot on, clear, smooth, and without any hint of the ill effects of high altitude. Having resigned myself long ago to the knowledge that I would never hear a Smiths’ song live, I could not have been more happy to be wrong. As the concert progressed, however, I found myself becoming increasingly agitated. A steady dose of morose songs are the norm with Morrissey, but his solo catalog also includes musically upbeat tunes…even if they are accompanied by lyrics that are she-was-found-face-down-in-a-bathtub-of-vodka level of depressing. I kept waiting for the uptempo songs. They did not arrive. Worse than that, I was seated next to an aggravating couple that included a gentleman who believed he himself was Morrissey. He sang each and every word quite loudly and with the utmost conviction of his own vocal talent. I wanted to kick him in the eye. I was not surprised when Morrissey performed Meat Is Murder while onscreen a graphic, five-minute long film of the industrialized food machine abusing and murdering animals played for our edification. I gave up hope and focused instead on my double vodka and soda. At least there was a chance for temporary mental respite at the bottom of my plastic cup. I checked my phone for the time and found myself disappointed that it was only 10:11. All I could think was heaven knows I’m miserable now.

Toward the end of the show, Heather and I checked out. I think we might have left if it hadn’t been for some sort of misguided optimism that perhaps Morrissey would come out of his self-indulgent drama long enough to play something lively and redeem the show. I know Morrissey was simply being Morrissey. It’s not his fault that I didn’t get the concert I had hoped for. He was the same Morrissey he has always been. I have changed. My mentality has caught up with my biology. I’m older now and have less tolerance for intentional misery. I am weary and wary of wallowing for wallowing’s sake. Life is short, and our thoughts determine our relative level of joy. Based on that notion, Morrissey must be the most disconsolate man on earth. Don’t get me wrong. I will always enjoy his songs because they are wry, poetic, and clever. He rests on the other side of the scale from brainless, pop fluff and creates a necessary balance. Somewhere along the line, though, I decided that choosing to live in misery doesn’t make you deep. It just makes you dark. I will never see another one of your shows, Morrissey, but I’m still fond of you.