London is buzzing these days with the Olympics. London always buzzes, but there is an extra feeling of excitement, a spirit of shared community. Forget the negative aspects of Olympic commercialism and politics. This "greatest show on earth" seems to bring out some of the best characteristics in people.
The London Olympics 2012 motto is "Citius, Altius, Fortius", meaning "Faster, Higher, Stronger", but the greater theme is our future through young people. This idea was exemplified at the Opening Ceremony when the Olympic Flame was lit by seven young athletes, instead of the usual iconic sporting hero.
London, and Britain, is very multi-cultural. Sometimes I feel like a foreigner in my own city. So this is a natural location for a global event which welcomes competitors and spectators from around the world. The spectacular Olympic Flame was created by 204 torches representing each of the competing sporting nations.
Yes, of course, we are patriotic for Team GB sporting successes, and fortunately we have had many already. But we are fair to celebrate the successes and endeavours of every nation. And we love to support the underdogs also. Yesterday there were, for the first time ever, two female athletes competing for Palestine and Saudi Arabia. Both of them were very slow runners and finished a long long way behind the other competitors, but the whole stadium cheered when they finished their races. There is an inherent understanding that winning is not everything, that taking part and trying to achieve your best is what matters. And imagine also the greater social and political significance in their own countries of these women competing on a global stage...
I am lucky to be going this Saturday to the final evening of the athletics in the Olympic Stadium. It will be an unforgettable experience.
The ticket cost me a small fortune, an arm and a leg as we say, but at least now I will be eligible to compete in the Paralympics.
It is all very inspiring. Like many people, I am wondering how I could become an Olympian. At my age I don't think I can be faster or higher or stronger. But maybe I could learn shooting or archery. Why not?! One of our gold medal rowers had never been in a boat until four years ago when she was inspired by the Beijing Olympics. And Rio de Janeiro is apparently a fun place to visit...
This video was created as part of the original bidding process for London to host these Games. It stars many famous British sportsmen and actors but is intended to show how everybody, young and old, can become inspired.
I found a quotation recently: "So many timid people tiptoe through life, so carefully, to arrive, safely, at death."
But, as the video's song asks: "What have you done today to make you feel proud?"