I’ve made some points previously regarding the crises we face as a generation. We live in perilous times indeed. The case of Ian Thorpe is by no means an exception. Here are a few of my observations arising from his circumstances – one that is not so dissimilar to most of ours:
1. In the 21st century, there is a stark difference between Greatness and Mediocrity
Our present 21st century environment has awakened within our hearts what was always there – human desire for greatness. No grows up wanting to be mediocre. No one grows up wanting to just be average at life. No, when we are young we dream of ruling the world and eradicating poverty and curing cancer.
At some point our idealism gets invaded by reality. How we react and recover and settle after the reality check determines our contentment AND success. I believe truly great people are people who have the ability to bridge the gap between the real and the ideal again and again.
On the other hand, mediocrity happens when we settle for the real and stop striving for the ideal.
Particularly in Ian Thorpe’s case, he once had a very real taste of greatness – so when he tasted mediocrity, it hit hard indeed. Depression set in, and alcoholism as a form of escapism was a coping mechanism
2. Not finding a way to administrate or reconcile the difference can cause depression and escapism
Here is the crucial point for us in this generation: the chasm between the real and ideal has increased far beyond what is manageable at times (or rather our ability to perceive the chasm has increased). So the ‘settling’ when reality hits becomes incredibly difficult. I myself have experienced a degree of anxiety and depression related in part to this in the last year (i think – I’m still trying to figure it out).
I don’t think I have all the answers yet. I do believe in contentment whatever the circumstance. And yet it’s not a contentment that leads to inactivity. Fulfilment happens when we find and walk the knife edge of contentment vs achievement.
Whatever the case, I deeply believe the full answer is found in the kingdom. Jesus words have provided the roadmap for me thus far, albeit surpisingly at first. But perhaps there is wisdom in heeding the owners manual for how something is supposed to work.