“Let’s face it, we’re all on a one-way street, aren’t we, and what are we going to do? What are we going to do as we go forward to have no regrets looking back? And all this past year in training, I had that Teddy Roosevelt quote…floating around in my brain, and it says, “You go ahead, you go ahead and sit back in your comfortable chair and you be the critic, you be the observer, while the brave one gets in the ring and engages and gets bloody and gets dirty and fails over and over and over again, but yet isn’t afraid and isn’t timid and lives life in a bold way.”
I stumbled recently upon Diana Nyad’s Ted Talk from 2013 – and it’s one of the most inspirational things I’ve come across in a long time.
Here’s the link:
It took Diana Nyad five tries and nearly forty years to accomplish her dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida. And she was sixty-four when she finally did it – which I love!
When you refuse to accept limits based on something as arbitrary as age, it becomes much easier to get comfortable with the concept of a life that twists and turns organically. It becomes about enjoying the interesting ramble and the detours and opportunities for divergence – privileging a road full of those things over one that is essentially a sprint from Point A to Point B (one sprint after another after another, based on some timetable in your head that has nothing to do with your own unique potential.)
I like that!
But her points about “the journey” versus “the destination” are even more inspiring:
The Henry David Thoreau quote goes, when you achieve your dreams, it’s not so much what you get as who you have become in achieving them. And yeah, I stand before you now. In the three months since that swim ended, I’ve sat down with Oprah and I’ve been in President Obama’s Oval Office. I’ve been invited to speak in front of esteemed groups such as yourselves. I’ve signed a wonderful major book contract. All of that’s great, and I don’t denigrate it. I’m proud of it all, but the truth is, I’m walking around tall because I am that bold, fearless person, and I will be, every day, until it’s time for these days to be done.
She’s saying, I think, that it’s not ultimately about what you achieve; it’s rather about what kind of person you become in the process of trying.
So, while accomplishments and accolades are satisfying, the more important thing is the act of reaching deep inside and drawing out the best parts of yourself….of cultivating resilience and bravery and boldness in pursuit of your dreams and your best self. No matter how many times you stumble, and no matter what anybody else has to say about it.
That quote I led off with speaks to this as well – particularly the part from Theodore Roosevelt. (Which I really liked!)
I aspire to the sort of boldness and bravery that Diana Nyad exemplifies! Cultivating those qualities is – to answer the question posed in that first quote – essential for me if I want to look back over my life without regrets. I feel that.
I’ve made strides on that in the last few years, I know – but I’m not where I want to be yet.
Diana Nyad has most definitely joined my list of role models though! Her thoughts and words and example are inspiration to me to keep on growing in these areas, and reaching forward.
There are of course lots and lots of worthy Ted Talks to read or watch – but if you aren’t familiar with this one, I recommend giving some time to it. It’s very worth it!