A Pandemic Olympiad Gift
Dare I sound like a Pollyanna when I say there was something very special about the Olympic Games taking place during a pandemic?
This round of Olympic Games introduced a new phenomenon necessitated by the pandemic. Since the athletes’ supporters weren’t permitted in the stands, NBC devised efforts to connect friends and family from afar: Watch Parties! Included in the extensive tv coverage of various events were visuals of parents, siblings, children, spouses, schoolmates, and other friends who’d assembled to watch and cheer for an athlete.
It was especially moving to watch interviews with masked medal-winners after their event. (Admittedly the emphasis was mostly on American athletes.) When NBC made it possible for the athlete to see or hear the whooping and hollering going on back home, it seemed to make the victory that much sweeter. Even if all we could see was an athlete’s eyes, it was obvious that the opportunity to connect with the Watch Party back home multiplied the joy and gratitude.
We don’t have to be world-class athletes to have our own Watch Party. Who is in yours? Who is assembled, in your mind’s eye, to celebrate you and your efforts? Who will be there for both “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” to steal a phrase dating back to the 1960’s TV show, ABC’s Wide World of Sports?
I’m convinced that if we cultivate a Watch Party (small, medium or large) and keep that connection alive, our potential for joy is enhanced. Even if members of our Watch Party express their support through tough love at times, we still might be better off. After all, I’m sure the athletes who found their way to Japan didn’t get there solely due to encouragement. It seems like coaching almost always includes a good share of nudging!
The XXXII Olympiad has inspired me to recognize those who are in my Watch Party. If it feels like you haven’t got one, or that there aren’t enough people in it, a few suggestions:
1) Ask a close friend or relative who they think is in your Watch Party.
2) What qualities are you looking for in your Watch Party? Set an intention for individuals with these qualities to come into your life. (Although it’s important to note what qualities you are not looking for, too.)
3) Don’t forget about pets and other animals! (See a brief vignette about this in the “Pictured Above” section below.)
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Prompts For Joy
My brother and sister were the founding members of my Watch Party. In celebration of 65 years around the sun this month, I selected prompts that honor each of them.
Click here for a choral performance by an organization whose cause is very important to me. (If you want to skip to the song, it starts right around the 3-minute mark.)
Click here for a happy-dance. (There are never enough of these!)
Top: Welcome Wide-Eyed Wonder. Collage by Martha Clark Scala.
I was reminded of this collage, made in 2015, one recent morning while reflecting on the Watch Parties I’d seen during NBC’s Olympic coverage. Sitting outside in a lawn chair, sipping a strong cup of coffee, I noticed my husband Bill looked transfixed. And then I heard the familiar whir of a hummingbird. It wasn’t at any of the three feeders. It was making a much more up close and personal visit. This tiny creature made a complete circle around my head! Was it my siblings letting me know they’re still in my Watch Party even though they are already deceased? I wonder . . .
Below: A sample page from Chapter 14 in my memoir, Assembling a Life: Claiming the Artist in My Father (and Myself).
For those who have expressed an interest in my collages, you can follow me on Instagram.
Why Assemble a Life? An Interview with Author and Artist, Martha Clark Scala
What motivated me to write Assembling a Life: Claiming the Artist in My Father (and Myself)? Check out this video to find out. Comments and feedback welcome!
The Clark household, where Martha was nicknamed Happy, was utterly devoid of religion, yet for Martha it was a place of magic and divinity. A divinity to be found in the resilience of family members, the joy of household pets, and the creative juices that produced her father’s many paintings. In these, she finds a faith unencumbered by ritual and churchbound conceits. And this may be the purest faith of all.
—James Hanna, Author, The Ping-Pong Champion of Chinatown, The Siege, Call Me Pomeroy and more.
Above, a sample page from Chapter 14 of Assembling a Life. This memoir is loaded with color photos (and some black and white) on just about every page. A visual feast.
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