Olympic PhoenixThe Olympic Games are over now; and the athletes of the world are returning to their homes. Whether they won a medal or not, we hope they will all be treated as heroes. For, according to the Olympic Creed: 

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most import thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.   The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.

Some of them will compete again in four years, at the games in Brazil. But for many of these young athletes, the end of the 2012 Olympic Games may also be the end of an athletic career. After years of extremely focused, dedicated, and disciplined training, their lives will be changed forever.   Those who have won medals may begin new careers as sports celebrities, commentators, media stars, or doing product endorsements. Others may have to forge new beginnings in entirely different fields. Having lived by the Olympic motto for so long – “Faster, Higher, Stronger” – it may not be easy to come to terms with these transitions, whichever way they lead. And so it goes. Personal growth and self-development are not always easy.

That is why I felt that the Phoenix was a most apt symbol for the Closing Ceremonies. The Phoenix is described as a bird with a colourful plumage and a tail of gold and scarlet. Near the end of its life cycle, the Phoenix builds itself a nest of twigs and then ignites it. After burning fiercely, both the nest and the bird are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix arises, reborn to live again. It is an act of Creative Destruction, an alchemical process. In alchemy, common metals are transformed by fire into gold.  Symbolically, fire represents light, enlightenment, and illumination. When the Phoenix gives up its old and completed self, it does so because it is ready to be transformed and reborn into a higher realm.

It’s easy to be cynical about the Olympics. Indeed there is no shortage of reasons to be cynical. But if you choose to, you could focus on the more positive aspects of the Olympic Games, and to be inspired by the symbolism of what they represent. And remember the Olympic Creed: “The most import thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.   The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” And when one stage is ended, be ready to be enlightened, illuminated and transformed by what you have learned.

Write about that!