Common stories, exceptional bonds

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All being well, as this is posting, I’m screaming myself hoarse at the Invictus Games (possibly cheering, possibly just screaming, given that I’m sitting behind one of the goals at the Wheelchair Rugby), and I wanted to make a post that’s sort of related to that. The athletes at the Games are competing in different disciplines, they come from different countries, and they all have different lives. They also, however, have something in common; every one of them has served in the armed forces of his or her country, and has been wounded as a result.

These are brave people, people who have pushed themselves to the very limit, had their lives turned upside down, and then got back up and pushed themselves to a whole new limit. Actually, I’m beginning to wonder if some of these athletes know what a limit is. The Games are bringing them together to celebrate their achievements, their sacrifices, and their jaw-dropping ability to perform incredible sporting feats.

I, like many of those who’ll be attending the Games over the next few days – and who attended yesterday – am going to cheer them on because they’re amazing, inspirational, and tough, and because they deserve our support and applause (as do the many wounded warriors who will not be competing). However, I’m also going because I know that at least some of these servicemen and women have battled a medical condition I’m also fighting right now, and having that in common with them makes me feel more invested in their success. Others will be attending because they have loved ones in the armed forces, or know someone who didn’t come back. At first glance, it may seem like no ordinary civilian could have much in common with these military para-athletes, but I think everyone could find something in common with at least one of them.

You don’t have to share someone’s story with them, or even have a single thing in common with them, to understand their point of view or want to see them do well. I was going to add something about how readers who have things in common with a character will almost always relate more to them, or perhaps about how characters with things in common may bond over shared experiences, but honestly? I’m watching the rugby. And this post isn’t about writing, not really. It’s about the Invictus Games, and those taking part in them.

I think, today, that’s enough.

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