The opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London were so triumphantly moving, creative, exciting and inspirational that, right after they were concluded, we caught ourselves wondering “What will they do for an encore?” And: “How can they possibly top that?!”
Well, early last Monday morning, we woke up before the crack of dawn to catch the Games’ closing rites—and we had our answer:
Very judiciously, the inspirational athletic event’s creative think tank didn’t try to surpass their awesome achievement two or three weeks ago; instead they did something else. They threw a big, brassy bash, a jumping and jiving street party for literally thousands of exhausted but hugely happy athletes, fans and revelers from all over the world!
Medley of songs
So, instead of amazing artistic concepts that bristled with British wit and brilliant creativity, the closing ceremonies opted for a medley of songs that emotionally “massaged” everyone with their meaningful lyrics and irresistible grooves.
One of the highlights of the long program, instructively enough, was John Lennon’s peacemaking anthem, “Imagine.”
The pride of place that it was given in the show’s unfolding repertoire was in itself an exciting statement that placed global sports within a new and more valuable context than previously “imagined” possible. Not only did sports promote courage, determination and glory for country, but they are also capable of healing hearts, and making the fractured and fractious world truly, if temporarily, one.
As athletes from otherwise combative nations focused on setting new records in their chosen sports, they “forgot” some of the racist, political and economic issues that had sundered them in the distant and recent past.
Sports and arts
Even better, the use of “Imagine” as a sort of thematic musical subtext for the whole celebration reminded viewers and listeners, not just about the power of sports to heal and unite, but also about the corollary ability of music and the arts to effect their equally beneficial psychic balm on mankind.
Most of the time, sports and the arts travel on separate arcs and axes. In fact, in some people’s views, sports focus on the body while the arts affect the soul, so hardly ever can the twain converge.
At the Olympics however, they, too, become one, with the arts celebrating human physical achievement, and creatively transforming it into a truly inspirational experience.
The theme song’s title, “Imagine,” sums up this hitherto unappreciated power of the arts to vividly ennoble the physically heroic human being.
Man is strong not just due to his physique, but also because he can use his imagination to make himself even better and more powerful than he already is!
In olden days, this essential fusion was summed up by the oft-quoted Latin phrase, “Mens sana in corpore sano(a sound mind in a healthy body).”
At the London Olympics, Lennon’s beautifully inspirational anthem gave that truism a more current and vivid veracity, as the Games brilliantly concluded their celebration of Man in his amazing totality—body, mind, heart and soul!
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