On Labor Day, Diana Nyad showed the world what it meant to have a dream. To believe in that dream. To do whatever it takes to achieve that dream. On Labor Day, Diana Nyad became the first swimmer to cross the Florida Straits without a shark cage. It was her fifth attempt at the crossing in 35 years.
Nyad should serve as an inspiration to us all. We all have dreams that we work to accomplish. Some dreams are harder to achieve than others, but they all deserve a chance to become reality. My dreams vary from finding ways to help others, to writing a novel, to creating a great life for my loved ones.
I know every dream, every goal I have will take work. I know they will all face some sort of opposition but if I’m patient, and I give it time, I’m sure I’ll make it. It took Nyad five times to reach the shores of Key West. She was deterred by weather, jellyfish and even the ocean’s currents on her previous attempts. But it only takes one moment, or in her case a series of 53 hours worth of moments, and lots of perseverance to succeed.
Nyad learned from her previous attempts, and she adapted going forward. They were not failures. She was able to adjust and learn what was required to continue. Her attempt in 2011 was foiled after 41 hours when she could no longer continue to swim due to stings from the potentially deadly Box Jellyfish. In 2012, she combated the jellyfish with a jellyfish suit, a thin nylon covering that prevents stings. But the jellyfish could still sting her lips. The stings, weather and circling sharks still proved to be too much to overcome.
Some may say she was just lucky. But I don’t believe in luck. I believe it takes patience, lots of it, and an opportunity. Nyad is a very strong swimmer, she first gained national attention in 1975 when she swam the 28 miles around the island of Manhattan in under eight hours. In 1979, she swam the 102 miles from North Bimini, Bahamas, to Juno Beach, Fla., in 25 1/2 hours. She had the skill, she just needed the opportunity.
Many of us spend our lives believing our dreams are out of our reach when in fact they are just over the horizon, and we have to work for it. No one can say how long it will take to accomplish something, but as with everything in life, the journey is just as sweet as the destination. It’s the journey that shapes us as individuals. It’s the journey that pushes us to the brink, testing our limits. It’s the journey that shows us what sort of strength we posses. It’s the journey that often times surprises us.
I have been working on my goals for awhile, achieving little victories here and there. They remind me I am on the right path, and I am chipping away little by little. I may not be able to see the big picture of my life, but the strokes and colors I’m seeing now show me it will be a beautiful one when I’m done.
So I make this promise, even if it takes me 50 years to accomplish my dreams, I will succeed. I encourage all of you to find what makes you happy and see it through because life is too short to have regrets. So find that dream, fight for it and achieve it.
BCR Copy Editor Sarah Maxwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.