Yesterday afternoon, a little boy was visiting so I turned on the TV to find the Disney Channel. Up pops CNN with a rugged, red-faced swimmer leaning on the arms of others, and everyone in my living room was instantly transfixed, even the three year old. We leaned in to hear her words, and in the middle of her second message (or “rules for life” let’s call it) our satellite went out. Maybe I didn’t hear her words in real time, but Diana Nyad spoke to me online with her three rules. I figured if a woman my age could swim from Cuba to Key West, I could listen to her.
I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.
This woman swam for 53 hours, without a shark cage and with only a silicone mask for her face at night to protect her from jelly fish. But what really got me, even beyond the fact that this was her FIFTH try to swim 110 miles, was that her strokes-per-minute never varied, she was a slow and steady 50 strokes per minute!
We’ve all heard of inspiration boards on Pinterest, and inspirational speakers who like to talk about their time as dare-devil Navy pilots landing on aircraft carriers at sea with only a 500′ runway. Yes, I sat through that one. But an inspirational swimmer, now that’s something!
I just read about a woman who has a picture of Joan of Arc in her bedroom, she figures if Joan could change the course of history before the age of 18, she should be able to get out of bed.
I’m hanging a picture of Diana Nyad on my study wall. So what if I torqued my spine in water aerobics, so what if my yoga studio closed its doors, so what if my knee sounds like crepe paper. No more excuses! After all, if Nyad could swim from Cuba to Florida, I can…what? Dance again, maybe like the Flapper did after our Year of Living Dangerously. One beautiful stroke at a time.
Perseverance is a critical quality. Like the Love Bug crawling every day to the dog’s water bowl even though she finds the door to the mud room closed most of the time. She gets out of her giraffe chair, puts on her goggles and dashes across that kitchen floor in the blink of an eye. Still, she crawls. I think of Maya Angelou’s inspiring words:
“Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.”