In a world that too often discounts lessons learned through failure, Diana Nyad should be everyone’s hero.
Yes, some may dismiss Nyad as a thrill-seeker, a narcissist who was willing to put herself at risk to accomplish a feat that, in the course of human events, amounts to a stunt. Indeed, all of that is probably true, but it’s also her raison d’tre.
Life is about competing, showing up for work every day, working the second job to support a family, making sacrifices to accomplish goals and, most of all, believing that the dreams we most cherish for ourselves or others are achievable. In crossing 110 miles of treacherous open waters, Nyad has taught us all a lot about never abandoning dreams, even those that others might find inconsequential.
Swimming the open seas from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage is a remarkable feat of endurance and mental fortitude for anyone at any age, let alone for a 64-year-old who had failed in four previous attempts. Nyad’s accomplishment provides a powerful metaphor for life and reminds us that the human spirit can rise to meet the enormous challenges to our bodies and minds. Life is about taking what we have and making the most of it, and the swimmer has done just that.
Nyad was 28 years old when she first attempted this Cuba-to-Florida swim. Winds knocked her far off course that first time, and bouts of bad weather, bad luck and bad jellyfish stings conspired to stop her other attempts.
Too often we forget the valuable life lesson that passion and success come from within and that failure doesn’t make someone a loser.
As a motivational speaker for many years, Nyad talked extensively of “chasing the extreme dream,” something that would require “utter conviction and unwavering passion” every minute of every day because the dream was so big that she couldn’t get there otherwise. Most of us have dreams, but not all of us have the unceasing commitment to make those dreams come true.
Age is only a number, and triumph can be found in both modest and extreme ways as long as our dreams, hopes and passions propel us to achieve greatness in our own special ways.The Dallas Morning News