When I found out I’d be a torchbearer I made a decision to hold back the essay I wrote to “win” my spot. To be selected as a torchbearer via Coke’s competition you entered a random draw multiple times (I did nearly 100 times). If you make it past the first round you are asked to submit a 200 word essay about how you’ve changed your life for the better. Then a panel decides if yours is one of the best 4000 entries.
I thought long and hard before submitting this–even longer about sharing it. And not only because I find it hard to say anything in 200 words or less: the core topic isn’t something that I talk about very much. Not so much out of shame, or concern about being judged; mostly because folks tend to notice I don’t drink during social situations and I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable (or worried about me).
…ok, here goes:
“I want to carry the flame for those whose alcoholism took away everything. In February 2010 I will be excited about the Games, but I’ll also think about where I’ve come from in twenty years. Starting in February 1990 I lost it all: job, home, family, and health—all gone in a few weeks. I found myself trying to figure out where it had all gone so terribly wrong. I could see where my life was headed—and I was terrified.
Terrified enough to change everything. I learned how to take care of myself: certainly no more alcohol, but also eating well and moving more. That first year I walked all over Vancouver. Then I learned how to cross-country ski. Over the next several years I added downhill skiing, ice and inline skating and snowboarding to the mix. My body recovered and got stronger; so did my mind and spirit. I even I went back to school, eventually earning a PhD. Life’s funny. Twenty years ago I was sedentary and wasting away. Today it’s me who organizes the gang to do stuff!
I’ve been so lucky; I’ve tried to give back. Over the years I’ve mentored others facing challenges like alcoholism. I tell them that for me it all started with two decisions: change everything. And start moving.”