I love to watch "The Amazing Race." It's one of about 3 shows I watch anymore. I don't think I've missed much more than one or two episodes in seven seasons. It's been fascinating to see these ordinary people cry, strive, laugh, fight, bicker, get lost, get hurt, push past their fears, cheat, lie, and love as they race around the world for a million dollars. The full spectrum of human behavior unfolds against a backdrop of the wonderful and exotic in the world. Some events are shocking (Jonathon and Victoria) and some are marvelous (I can't remember their names right now, but I'm still impressed by the sister team from Utah where one of the sisters unrolled hay bales for over eight hours searching for the clue. Every other team had moved on, but she kept unrolling those hay bales. She never quit. Phil, the host of the show, finally came to her to tell her that they were eliminated from the race. It was dark, and they estimated she had unrolled close to 200 ginormous hay bales. There's stamina and integrity for you!). I especially love watching these people test their courage.
Today I am especially impressed by Joyce. http://www.cbs.com/primetime/amazing_race7/ She and her husband Uchenna entered this race with the twin hopes of rebuilding their relationship and winning the money so that they could afford to battle their infertility difficulties. In the last episode, they chose to go after the elusive "Fast Forward"; by earning the Fast Forward, they earn the right to skip all tasks and go right to the pit stop. Teams winning the fast forward are usually in first place and are ahead of all the other teams. This race is almost over, and winning the fast forward now could mean winning the race. Now the Fast Forward is usually a daunting task--more difficult than the others. In this task, racers had to undergo a Hindu good luck ritual--shaving their heads bald. No problem for Uchenna--he's already shaven. But Joyce wasn't. They took a lot of time finding the fast forward. Going back without winning it would have surely meant elimination. Joyce was mad. "I frickin' knew it!" she yelled. "All right then, go ahead!" she said, ripping off her bandanna. Uchenna tried to stop her--"You don't have to do this honey." "We are DOING THIS!" was her reply. You could hear the frustration and hurt and fear in her voice. She cried as the scissors started cutting her hair off. Not only was she losing what had to be an important part of her female self-definition (I mean, what woman isn't a little vain about her hair?)--she was about to be bald on national television.
It was marvelous to watch as her tears of anger and loss changed as her hair got shorter and shorter. "It's only hair--it'll grow back. It's just the outward appearance." You could feel Uchenna's pride and love for his wife radiating from the tv screen. "You are so beautiful!" he kept saying to her. And it was true. She was absolutely regal. She was stunning. She was inspiring.
I don't know if Uchenna and Joyce will will the million dollars or not--but maybe they have something better. When they started this race, they admitted that their relationship was in a rocky place. After watching them earn that fast forward, and watching them grow together and work as a team, I would be surprised if they still felt that way. They have integrity and obvious love for each other. Uchenna respected and loved Joyce enough to lose the race if she wanted to keep her hair. She respected and loved him enough to let her hair go. I hope that if I am faced with the choice of losing something important to me (but ultimately trivial), I'll have the courage to make the choice. Would I give up my hair for a million dollars? Maybe. Would I give up my hair to make my relationship with my husband better? Definitely.
And that's the other side.