I am spending the next few weeks looking back at 2014, recapping the best stories I watched or read while also reflecting on my favorite blog posts of the year.
A cool thing happened last week:
I posted my 200th entry to the Telling The Story blog.
I continue to truly enjoy the experience of writing a blog, hosting a podcast, and communicating with storytellers and journalists worldwide. This platform has allowed me to share my own experiences in the field and provide a window into my day-to-day life.
No experience this year stood out quite like my month at the Olympics.
I flew to Russia on February 1st and didn’t get back to America until the 26th. During that time, in addition to my primary duties reporting for my TV station and others, I wrote 15 blog entries that saw significant traffic.
Here are my five favorites, with excerpts from each:
Arriving in Sochi, awaiting sleep (2/3/14): 3:34 AM.
The clock on my computer is staring back at me, screaming, “GO TO BED!” in its non-threatening, tiny white font.
And yet, I am nowhere near tired.
Welcome to the road-trip life, nine time zones away.
I have officially arrived in Sochi, Russia, home of the 2014 Winter Olympics. This is a truly exciting opportunity, one that I cannot wait to tackle.
But first, somehow, I have to get my body right.
Culture shock? What culture shock? (2/6/14): I like to travel.
And when I do, I seek the authentic – often to an absurd level.
When I toured Japan, I walked around one village in a white robe because to do otherwise would have been considered impolite. (It felt wonderful.)
When my girlfriend and I visited Italy, I demanded that we stop in Naples for the sole purpose of dining at the world’s oldest pizzeria. (It was delicious.)
And when I hiked the Inca Trail in Peru, I got so sick from food poisoning and altitude sickness that I had to spend two nights in a Peruvian hospital. (This one was not intentional.)
So naturally, when I got the call to go to Russia for the Olympics, I imagined numerous opportunities to scratch my authenticity itch.
After half a week, I’m still itching.
Churning out the content (2/11/14): I talk for a living. True, I also shoot, write, interview, and edit video for a living. But mostly, I talk. I work in the communications business, and that requires me to convey a certain level of expertise with the English language.
Normally, I can handle that.
But on some days, my mental word bank gets tapped out.
The Olympics brings those days with conviction. Daily work hours run into the teens. Sleep comes on a hotel bed and often in short spurts. Food is … well, food is a story for another day.
To put it simply, very little feels normal. Dealing with the abnormal requires a bobsled-load of mental energy.
When that energy dwindles, so do one’s wordsmith tendencies.
A different view of USA-Russia (2/17/14): If you watched this weekend’s instant classic USA-Russia hockey game, then you probably had the same view I did.
Check that. You probably had a much better view.
Despite being a few hundred yards from where the game was being played, I saw none of it in person. I watched it from, not the Bolshoy Ice Dome, but the International Broadcast Center.
On a 12-inch television.
With no sound.
But I would not trade that experience.
No shame in silver for Elana Meyers (2/20/14): The Olympic spotlight is extremely bright but cruelly brief.
It shines on an event, and that event’s mostly anonymous athletes, for a few days before zooming to the next.
Win a gold medal? You might earn another day before the spotlight leaves you dark.
Win a silver, and you fade even faster. And the viewing public will have barely learned your name, let alone everything you have battled to reach the Olympic Games.
In the case of Elana Meyers, that is truly a shame.
The Douglasville, Ga. native is an inspiration, someone who may not have won a gold medal, but is so worthy of the golden spotlight.
Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.