Diana Nyad: “I’ve got three messages. One is we should never, ever give up. Two is you’re never too old to chase your dreams and three is it looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team [effort].” Nyad said these words to the crowd welcoming her to dry land today after she swam for 53 hours from Cuba to Key West. With all those hours to think, she condensed life to three messages for all of us.
This was Nyad’s fifth attempt to swim 110 miles from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage and fins. Four earlier attempts ended because of nearly fatal jelly fish stings. At age 64, she succeeded. I’m younger than she is and can’t stay awake for 54 hours, to say nothing of swimming or floating that long. “You go, girl! You inspire me.”
Speaking of inspiration, in this week after the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, I am still inspired by people who lived under Jim Crow laws and maintained their dignity and humanity in such a way that their lives changed this country for the good. Whites who saw the need for change and, although they couldn’t walk in the shoes of Blacks, walked beside them inspire me. Together, Black, Brown and White brought unimaginable change to the United States and inspired people around the world
People who chase their dreams and develop “work arounds” for road blocks and challenges inspire me. Nyad and her team developed ways to nourish her and protect her from jelly fish. Blacks strategized to counteract racial oppression and economic injustice, beatings and death on the way to a more perfect Union. For them, impediments were puzzles to solve.
As Nyad says about her swim, so too, about life: It may look like an individual sport, but it’s a team effort. I am inspired by the humility of those who remember this bit of wisdom. We do not come into the world on our own, but because of others. During life, we depend upon the knowledge and labor of others to make our homes, roads, books, food, art, music, theater, health, and work possible. Life is a team effort.
Three years ago, I began my blog as a way to redeem the changes in my life brought upon by health issues. I still have the same physical limitations but I have adapted in many ways. I celebrate when I can see limitations as puzzles to solve instead of walls to beat against. My health constraints inform what I do and influence my perspective, but they do not define who I am.
My hope for Changing Direction is that it helps readers–and its author–live well in life’s changes. One aspect of living well is to have, as much as possible, a multi-dimensional life. I’ve gotten cabin fever with my blog and need to stretch my legs. I am going to write from the various places where I engage the world: faith and theology, politics and ethics, family, friendship and hobbies, and the everyday events that comprise a life. I will continue to write about the challenges and insights of adjusting to life’s curve balls, but don’t be surprised to find wide-ranging topics here in the future.
Throw me a line when I’m in over my head. Talk with one another and me through your comments. I want all of us to live multi-faceted lives, to live well, faithfully, joyfully, and fully.
Life isn’t a solitary sport. It’s a team effort. Onward!
*Nyad leaving Cuba photo credit: Ramon Espinosa/AP