I was on the Internet when news of Diana Nyad’s impending march to the shore of Key West hit the news – while I marveled at the athletic achievement, it wasn’t a huge surprise – after all, she knew what she was up against and had prepared well, and seemed to have the determination needed to make it across the Florida straits this go-around.
When she did alight on solid ground, walk up on the beach and a mic was thrust into her face – obviously fatigued beyond imagination and running on sheer adrenalin – she was still ready for her close-up and spoke words that will be etched into my memory as long as I have one:
“I have three messages: one is we should never ever give up; two is you are never too old to chase your dreams; and three is it looks like a solitary sport but it is a team.”
While I’m sure she mulled these words not only during the grueling swim through vicious waters but many times before, they were spoken with such spontaneity and sincerity – almost coming across as a message from a space creature, landing on our brutal, immature planet for the first time bearing wisdom we’re rarely privy to.
“We should never, ever give up”
With this component of the message, she recognized that all too often we lack the essential deep spirit needed to keep plugging along, whether it is finding the motivation to run farther than usual or work those extra two hours on the presentation that will take us to the next level of our careers. When one is exhausted physically or mentally, the simplest chores become daunting obstacles. By invoking sheer will and determination to complete an exercise of any form, we often find we really do have the inner resources needed to reach the objective. There is a certain outcome if we give up, there’s always the opportunity for success if we persist.
“You are never too old to chase your dreams”
And for that matter, you are never too young to chase your dreams. Obviously this reference to Diana’s age acknowledges that she is no longer a typical Olympian, and that for many of us that don’t pursue physical fitness professionally, her achievement Monday is unthinkable. Most people have a dream, a goal that receives less focus than we’d like to give it during our youth and early adulthood, and the sense that suddenly one is too old to execute comes upon us like a lead cloak. I believe that Diana provides us all with a great example of the payoff that can come with dedication, hard work, imagination and preparation – all hallmarks of people of a certain age. It is important to recognize the strength of maturity and apply its assets to our dreams, so they can be recognized and enjoyed as part of our reason for being here.
“It looks like a solitary sport but this is a team”
Life sometimes looks and feels like a solitary sport, but if you look around you, there’s a team … your friends and family, husbands, wives, and children, your co-workers and even that nice guy who let you on the bus first when it was raining last week. We rely on the people around us for spiritual sustenance, for physical assistance and for the need to fill in gaps – no one can do everything, but with the right team and proper planning, seemingly impossible feats can be achieved. Being thankful for the teams that contribute to our lives is the least we can do – acknowledge your team, personal and professional, and recognize how much farther you can go with them than you can alone.
Thank you Diana Nyad, lady named for Greek water nymphs, for inspiring me today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable future!