Grand old flame

If not quite the eyes of the entire world were watching, then 67.5 million pairs, according to one estimate, gazed upon the opening ceremonies: when the Olympic flame reached the stadium in Vancouver and a handful of Canadian athletes touched their flickering torches to the cauldron to begin the 2010 Winter Olympics. Folks who track such things noted that television viewership set a record for winter games held outside the United States. And folks who keep a fire burning for Santa Clara in their hearts might have felt a rush of warmth. For there, white-suited and red-mittened and tousle-haired, smiling for the tens of millions, was one of their own: British Columbia-bred sociology major and basketball hero Steve Nash ’96, one-time slayer of Arizona wildcats and now deflater of outsized egos on the maplewood.

It occurred to those of us who have the distinct pleasure of putting together SCM that this, indeed, was a first. Other Broncos have carried the Olympic torch—most recently, Jill Mason ’99 in 2008 and Frances Casey ’87 this year—and Nash himself held the torch aloft for a 300-meter stretch along Vancouver’s 49th Avenue on a Thursday afternoon. Then came the Friday night opening ceremony, and Nash was back in the spotlight, torch aloft, face and eyes aglow. Those who follow Nash on Twitter caught a little giddiness in his post there: “Can’t believe I lit the Olympic flame!” Then our boy headed off to play in the NBA All-Star Game.

It also occurred to us, after seeing one of the self-mocking television ads Nash has done for Vitamin Water—in which he is esteemed the “most ridiculous man in the world”—that he may be the first Bronco we’ve witnessed, in the span of one minute: don a denim tuxedo, sport an Elvis impersonator jumpsuit and pompadour, ride a toddler’s tricycle, and give CPR to a squirrel. Those may not be factors that writer Brian Doyle cites in the argument he makes about Nash in our letters section, but they’re hilarious.

Deeper in this issue, we hope you’ll settle in for some moments of reflection with the writers and teachers and photographers whose voices and images populate our pages: making pilgrimages geographical and chronological and spiritual, traversing miles and decades with quiet fortitude, a sense of a journey worth the walking and a burden carried well. Which does not mean there weren’t aching feet and misadventures along the way—moments that, as much as they make a gripping or terrifying or wacky story years after, the traveler could just as soon have done without. Same goes for the hours of tedium and the rolling the boulder up the hill only to have it … well, you know the drill. Though those are sometimes the painful instances in which it becomes clear that there’s work to be done and, like it or not, you’re the one to do it; there’s a lesson to be learned and you’re the one to learn it—whether it’s in Boston or Haiti, Ghana or Spain, with the words of Thucydides or John Quincy Adams or a teenage journalist ringing in your ears. And the direction to follow? Be still for a moment. Pay attention to what you see around you. There might even be a bright arrow pointing the way—a yellow one, painted there on the rock.

Keep the faith,
Steven Boyd Saum signature
Steven Boyd Saum
Managing Edito