With the Paralympics promising to cheer us all up in the post-Olympic gloom, I consider what the successes and ‘failures’ of the Games – and the events as a whole – can tell us about being happier in our own lives
The London Olympics – is it just me, or do they already feel dismally distant? In the two weeks since the light quite literally went out on London 2012, the golden glow emanating from all us usually-grey, complaining Brits has faded almost as quickly as a tan on lightly-bronzed skin. But it’s OK, because in mere days, the Paralympics will arrive, and the joy will spread once more.
But this certainly poses the question: are humans are doomed to peaks of glory, in the pursuit of a goal – followed by a dismal trough of gloom once it’s all over, or we don’t get what we were after? Well, actually, no.
Admittedly, for two glorious weeks, Britons were pleasantly surprised. We were not, contrary to popular opinion, quite as rubbish as we thought. Traffic and public transport weren’t the carnage we’d been expecting, the weather (mainly) held out, Britain did damn well across the medals board, and the Opening Ceremony was a bonkers, ridiculous, fantastically-hilarious, toe-tapping conglomeration of the best of British. Twitter loved it. We all loved it.
Briefly, we experienced what it must be like to actually shake off the yoke of our usual, grumbling, bleakly-practical and self-deprecating state, and experience genuine, heartstring-pulling joy.
Yes, I found myself revelling in rhythmic gymnastics, welling up at running and drying my tears after dressage. I found myself laughing happily at the Mo Farah meme, and even reluctantly approving of the sell-out cosmetic ads from Pendleton and Ennis et al. despite their over-use of Photoshop on some of the officially most-honed bodies on the planet. And this, from someone who usually doesn’t give sport the time of day.
But since then, we’ve had more rain, more news on the deficit, separate cases of old men pontificating on young women’s bodies, massacre in the Middle East, titles being stripped, and the end of a legend. Despite every publication under the sun’s attempts at shoring up ‘Olympics withdrawal’, there’s no mistaking that the shine has gone. And, after the initial revival, when the Paralympics are also done and dusted, will that be the final story?
For those of us interested in a slightly happier state of affairs, is this the only thing we can learn from the Games? With the Paralympic Games just around the corner, and cheeky adverts from Channel 4 promising an even better show than the BBC extravaganza, are we destined for the same high and then perishing low of the previous set, only this time worse, because there are no more to come?
Are we destined to bounce between ‘fun event’ to ‘fun event’, but be miserable the rest of the time? Will we shuffle under our collective duvets, and, as winter encroaches, simply refuse to cheer up?