Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thank you, Diana Nyad!

     I really needed to hear about Diana Nyad's record-breaking 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida yesterday. Most of all, I really needed to hear the 64-year-old's words after she reached shore:

   "I have three messages," she said. "One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you never are too old to chase your dreams. Three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it takes a team."

   Think about it: Olympic athletes are often washed up at 30 and most football players are out by 40. By 60, most surgeons, pilots, firefighters and cops call it quits. And yet this 64-year-old woman, after numerous failed attempts over the past 35 years, reached an athletic milestone! So much for the Beatles concept of growing old. (She's not going to be knitting any sweaters by the fireside.)

     Consider the odds she was up against:

    1. She made her first attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida almost 36 years ago at age 28 and failed.
    2. She braved the waters again on a numerous occasions but suffered such painful jellyfish stings that she was forced to stop.
   3. Her last attempt before this was two years ago. She was forced out of the water after she suffered a prolonged asthma attack--her first ever.
   4. She had to suffer the doubts of those around her. "I thought it wasn't humanly possible or she would have done it," said her good friend and handler Bonnie Stoll as quoted in The New York Times.

    Each failed attempt initially left her so heartbroken and exhausted, she vowed to quit. But with rest, she always came back--better and smarter. She consulted new experts. She made changes to her regimen. She learned through trial-and-error what worked and what didn't.

     Thank you, Diana, for giving all of us swimming through our own dark waters a bit of courage to keep paddling--through failures, through our own doubts and those of the people around us. Sometimes it's hard to believe you will ever reach that home port. You've added a little glimmer of hope on the horizon.

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