The Games of the Thirty-First Olympiad

comments 26
Flash Fiction

Shakti Ingenue began his spiritual quest during a commercial break in the Games of the Thirty-First Olympiad. Having just witnessed Katie Ledecky clean house in the women’s 800m freestyle, during which time he had consumed two-thirds of a beer and half a mushroom pesto pizza, he was riding a high and not being realistic about what it was he was hoping to accomplish. Thoughts were colliding willy-nilly in his mind. An entire spectrum of personal conundrums and opportunities was becoming clear to him.

The universe was opening up like a flower.

The absence of qualifying swimmers from the nation of India, for instance–such a vast and ancient nation ought surely to be capable of producing one world class swimmer!– had somehow fired a subculture of neurons living in his brain that were familiar with evolutionary biology. What his vast neural complex had concluded, was that if there was a yoga competition in the Olympics, Indian athletes would probably kick some ass on a Ledeckian scale.

He pictured himself seated quietly in an auditorium full of world class vipassana meditators wearing loose-fitting clothing. Like a judo robe. What you would do, he realized, is sit perfectly still without moving a muscle until you either won, or died. He couldn’t tell if he would have a slight smile on his face for the judges, or just look bored. Then he was reminded that some yogis liked to balance upside down on their hands, or standing on one foot, and he bogged down in the details, like how the competition would be judged. Faced with such a gargantuan and delicious problem, he lost focus on his spiritual quest entirely and shifted his mission to developing a technology that would objectively score the performance of world class yogis.

The television became a blur in the background.

Shakti realized it was one thing to bend your torso in half backwards while balancing your body on one hand, and quite another to be completely at peace in the same instant. The real winners would be blissed right out while contorted into pretzel-like geometries symbolic of man’s ascent out of the clutches of personal unconsciousness. The pose would have a pre-determined level of difficulty, but it would be wasted if certain biometrics were not achieved.

Maybe they could wear an electrified suit, like the fencers did, only it would need to be more like a leotard– something stretchy and virtually non-existent that would measure heart rate, brain waves, and blood pressure. He would develop a head band that could measure endorphin release. You would need to track the electromagnetic potential of the skin, and the heat generated by the palm of each hand.

While Shakti watched this year’s crop of pole vaulters fling themselves up into the sky, he took it one step further and realized what you really needed was a device for measuring chakra activity. That was the real enigma. This was a frontier that Shakti Ingenue could really get into exploring. Aargh! If only he had studied physics at the university!

But what about a team competition?! You could have a device that generated entangled pairs of photons, and pairs of yogis would systematically defeat Bell’s Inequality by modulating the entangled photons as they whizzed through their energy fields!

He sketched out the experiment on a sheet of paper. He drew a box and labeled it “Entangled Pair Generator” and then he drew some lines with arrows to represent the photons. Then he tried to draw the yogis seated placidly along the route. Geez! His drawing skills were really lacking. They were utterly piss-poor. The yogi’s noses kept turning out bulbous-looking and facing the wrong way on their faces. After three aborted sketches he looked up and realized they had cut to men’s volleyball. A gigantic man in knee-pads was clenching his fists and screaming vein-popping encouragement to his teammates. He had ten kills already. People were diving everywhere but they couldn’t stop him.

It was incredible. Shakti couldn’t stop watching.

While the Olympians dove and flailed, the pizza kicked in and his eyes began to feel heavy. Fatigue is millions and millions of cells ganging up on you– telling you to sit quietly so they can get back to what they were doing the night before. He was forced to concede. He brushed his teeth and had a glass of water, then went to bed. He dreamed about yogis diving all over a field, trying to catch a butterfly, but they couldn’t do it. The butterfly was very lithe.

When he awoke the next day, he was hungry for breakfast. He put some bread in the toaster and brewed some tea. His residual thoughts of a yoga competition in the Olympics were dull-seeming and distant. They weren’t there at all, actually. He had thirty minutes to shake off the weekend and remember who he was: a man with a job; a museum curator; the son of a mechanic.

A very normal man, with poor stretching ability, who was the perfect child of everything there is.


  1. ah, but to dream and create in a mind induced into a pizza coma sent thrills through me….I love moments like that, where the mind carries off into a realm of awesome thought that brings waves of a fevered hope that someday, we too can win the gold of the universe…but wait….I think we already have, we just carry it humbly within’. Ha, love this Michael….still catching up. Peace and love and jump higher yogi. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, we already have, Kim. If only we could remember what we’ve already won! An uncertain mind will leap from one aspiration to the next, fluttering along, grasping here and there though never quite sure what is safe to hold…


      Liked by 2 people

  2. Chuckle chuckle chuckle. What contortions you went through. Almost as good as the synchronized swimmers 🙂
    Michael Mark for Creative Writing Gold!
    Alison xox
    PS Are you really a museum curator? It’s not at all what I’d gleaned.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Alison! No, I’m not a curator by any stretch. I work at an engineering company designing combined heat and power plants mostly. Shakti was just a character who swept through the moment with his dreams of Greek yogic glory… I’ve been trying to picture what an Olympics would look like if it were recast today in light of the skills we need to succeed in modern society. I’m thinking of something like you get turned loose in a foreign subway station (built just for the competition) where you have to navigate a huge crowd of pedestrians in the shortest amount of time, while finding your way out, and at the same time you get points for answering quiz questions correctly on your cell phone. Or like, speed wiring a home electronics center. 🙂


      Liked by 3 people

  3. how sweet to experience his
    thrill of victory & agony of defeat
    within less time than it takes
    for a pizza to be fully digested!
    i, too, wish to participate
    during that most special
    Olympiad for the rest of us 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, David! Yes, quite a journey our friend Shakti had within the space of a pizza! There is indeed that Olympiad for the rest of us, which we cannot avoid and with which we must reconcile, the hide and seek we play with our true nature! Oh what a stage this life can be!


      Liked by 1 person

  4. I once had the privilege of meeting Ajahn Sumedho* at Oxford University, and he told me about his days doing voluntary service in the Peace Corps in Borneo. Several of the Western males he worked with were meditators, like himself, and (I’m being serious) they actually had meditation competitions! He was howling at the egocentric absurdity of it as he told me this, and so was I. Great piece, Michael, great peace.


    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, that is wonderful Hariod! I’m not surprised. We will find ways to compete over most anything, I suppose. So many ways to grasp at nothing at all… I have to confess, I have an image of some pretty wanton howling, maybe a tear or two careening down a cheek, then a quiet phase– a winding down, some sighs and chuckles– and then back to a crescendo!


      Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Ka! I’m glad you loved it. It was fun to just write something silly and I hoped people would be able to enjoy it with me. As to the writing, I’m just exploring different things… Having fun… Stretching carefully between paragraphs… Just being… 🙂 One thing interesting is the more I give to it, the more it gives back it seems… That is true I suppose, of anything. Thanks for all of your support and encouragement!


      Liked by 3 people

      • My pleasure and my appreciation! 🙂 I think your words are a great reminder to how much fun we can have when we let ourselves. Also, there’s some giving involved, as it is naturally rewarding. So glad you are stretching in between paragraphs… it’s like ‘you know’ that -by telling me that- it makes me proud of you; and in turn, it reminds me, keep stretching!

        Lots of Love,

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I think Mr. Ingenue probably had a blocked chakra or two, perhaps from the ingestion of too much pizza and beer, which undoubtedly led to his outlandish aspirations! Glad he came to his senses and wasn’t injured in the end!
    Your message with this piece was beautiful and transcendent and perfectly presented with humor and a poke at the latest fads.. yoga, in this case… and even though I am a practitioner, I completely understand what you’re saying.
    You are an incredible writer, Michael, and I am “blissed out” when I read you! lol

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says

    Hahaha!! I laughed out loud. Not only at Shakti Ingenue, but at your choice of words and description, the new style and also your comments! Like your subway station event. In the end it always comes down to what we have already won. Brilliant Michael.
    Peace, love, bliss, knee pads and butterflies,

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Beautiful mind! I just love how your mind thinks and your hands are able to catch it on the keyboard!! So much fun…so vivid. Loved the idea of the yoga costumes (my word for any outfit) being like the fencing suits!! Oh…and to be able to register chakra energy!!! 💜

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.