when i lived in l.a. i used to hear diana nyad reporting on public radio, really the only radio i listened to at the time. she has a rough, raspy quality to her voice with an unmistakable accent that you only find on a new yorker. (i should know. i was married to one.)
then last year i started reading about a diana nyad who was about to attempt an impossible 103 mile swim between cuba and florida. without a shark cage. she’d attempted it once before, more than 30 years ago and at the age of 60 had decided to give it another go. turns out diana nyad the reporter, was the same feisty woman who holds the world record for the longest open water swim without a shark cage.
then the months rolled by and the swim never happened. apparently the favorable conditions needed for the swim never materialized and she had to abandon the attempt. amazingly, she spent another year training and finally at the end of last week, the window opened and after almost 2 years of planning and fund-raising and diplomatic wrangling between two antagonistic countries for clearances and visas, she was in the water.
an agonizing almost 30 hrs later, vomiting, freezing, asthmatic, stung painfully all over her body by jellyfish and already way too far off course, she wisely opted to get back in the boat. to some it might seem like defeat, but as i start to contemplate my own mortality, realizing that i have lived more than half my life , wondering what i’ve achieved/will yet achieve and starting to feel the fragility of years of taking my body for granted, i am inspired and in awe of this amazing woman. yes, it was an extreme dream, but she not only dreamed it, she went to huge lengths to try to make it a reality and in the process she inspired legions. and i applaud her for that.
i was thinking tonight that the only way to try to achieve the impossible, is by not knowing that that’s what it is. whether one achieves it or not, the work to get there is not optional.
my own extreme dream at the moment has been initiating and taking on organizing the slutwalk in johannesburg and maybe if i’d know what a tough, frustrating, stressful process it would be, i might have thought twice. but here i am. i’m not alone. and it’s not optional.