Nyad needs to set more reasonable goals now
Sep 23, 2013 at 9:04 AM
When Diana Nyad stumbled ashore after her record swim from Cuba to Key West, she said she had fulfilled her life’s dream. She said one should never give up, one should find a way, and age should never be a deterrent.While I applaud her incredible feat, she is not my role model. Frankly I think she’s crazy. Wouldn’t it be easier to find a dream that doesn’t involve physical pain, jellyfish stings and the possibility of shark attacks? A modest dream wrapped in muslin rather than gold paper? A dream that doesn’t disrupt the lives of everyone around you?People with big dreams are big drains on their families. For every flamboyant overachiever, there is a wife or husband and children or parents giving up their lives to see the dream realized. Behind every Olympic champion is a mother or father who rose before dawn to get their kid to practice on time.From what I’ve read, Nyad appears to have had an obsessive personality since childhood. In 10th grade she slept in her bathing suit to be ready for her 4:30 a.m. workout. I cannot identify with that impulse. In 10th grade, I couldn’t comprehend 4:30 a.m. In a few years, it would become my bedtime, but I never rose that early.As much as I love Tour de France cyclists, I think they are completely nuts. Their dreams are more demanding than Nyad’s. Hers was 55 hours and done. These guys suffer for three weeks then come back and do it again the next year.I suppose the world needs the Nyads and the Jens Voigts. They inspire us, let us experience victory vicariously, even lead some of us into action.Not me. I have been known to ride a bike ... around the block. I don’t feel compelled to drag myself up Roan Mountain, however.Someone I know grew so fascinated with professional cycling, he set a goal to take part in the Tour de France even though he was decades older than the oldest rider in the peloton. His illusions were soon enough shattered.“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. Or what’s a heaven for?” Robert Browning famously wrote.True, but dreams must have some basis in reality or they are just setups for disappointment.My dreams have been modest but I have achieved many of them: I owned a collie; I saw The Beatles; I learned to ride and jump horses; I lived in the country; I got a college degree; I wrote and published a book; I bought a house; I work for a newspaper; I have spent hours and hours reading books I love. I have not and will not win an Academy Award, own a horse farm in Kentucky, mingle with New York’s literati or marry Paul McCartney. Except for marrying Paul, I never really expected to do any of the others.I really like muslin.In my research for this column, it was interesting to learn, with all her amazing accomplishments, Nyad sometimes wishes she could be more like me.“I just don’t like feeling ... even-keeled,” she said in an interview. “I envy it sometimes. I’d like to be an easy-going person who sleeps nine hours a night, but I’m not.”Sleeping? Oh, yes. I excel at that.Jan Hearne is the Press Tempo editor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Facebook.