Did you wake up this morning inspired to swim across a shark and jellyfish filled, salty, wavy, cold ocean for 50-plus hours? What, you didn’t? But didn’t you hear about Diana Nyad who broke an open water swimming record by swimming from Cuba to Key West this weekend – 64 years old, 110 miles, 53 hours, no shark cage. Come on, you’ve got to want to try it, just a little bit.
What makes people do stuff like this? What is it in the human mind that says, “Hey, that thing looks crazy impossible. I’m gonna do that.” People who climb frozen mountains, sail around the world on a raft, jump out of perfectly good airplanes, fight lions in the wild. Dare to go beyond. Compete in a triathlon, raise a bunch of kids, write a novel.
The goal is all relative isn’t it? What’s easy for you may be impossible to me, and vice versa. I have friends who are training for marathons, I’d like to get a really good 5K time. Some of you are trying to lose 10 pounds, others are working on 100. Graduate high school or finish your PhD. I guess it’s just something in the human spirit that encourages us to push ourselves a little harder, to set the finish line a little further.
But one thing that really amazed me about Ms. Nyad's swim? This was her fifth attempt, the first was in 1978. This woman is 64 years old! I remember when she tried this last year – then she also went without a shark cage – which, from my understanding of the description is a huge cage that the swimmer swims in and floats along with them, to keep sharks away – but unfortunately, she was taken out by jellyfish. Right. I think about sharks and jellyfish swims when I wade into the ocean for a beach afternoon. Even contemplating dealing with the threat of them for 100-plus miles? No, I’m sorry, not the threat – the actual existence – there were divers and kayakers to keep them away from her.
Despite past failures, near-death circumstances, the mental defeat she had to experience, the physical pain and exhaustion - this woman came back and did it again! And even with the great possibility of failing again, she still pulled on her wetsuit and hopped in the Cuban waters, again.
How many times have we let failures make us quit? How often do we let just the thought that we might fail, all the things that could trip us up, keep us from even trying? What is the ocean we are trying to swim across and what sharks are there lurking? How will we prepare for the journey, how will protect ourselves from the sharp teeth?
And how will we celebrate when we reach the finish?
Congratulations to Ms. Nyad and everyone else swimming towards their goals.
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