Diana Nyad’s goal was to swim about 110 miles in the Gulf Stream waters between Cuba and the U.S. Unlike caregiving, which is often hoisted upon us in a time of crisis, this was Nyad’s lifetime goal. She failed in her first attempt at age 29. After age 60, she tried three times before succeeding at age 64 in her fourth effort. Like successful caregivers, she didn’t do it alone; she had help.
She writes, “[While] everybody — scientists, sports scientists, endurance experts, neurologists, my own team — said it’s impossible. It just simply can’t be done… [close friend] Bonnie said to me, ‘… if you’re going to take the journey, I’m going to see you through to the end of it, so I’ll be there.'”
Oftentimes, we don’t see eye-to-eye with family, friends, and colleagues. After we dive into the uncertain waters of caregiving, we’ll reach calmer waters with help from those who are willing to support us in our efforts.
Fortunately, most caregivers don’t live through such a dangerous and extreme ordeal. Nyad accomplished her lifelong dream to swim from Cuba to the U.S. in 53 hours. Battling hallucinations due to hypothermia, she humorously recounts seeing the Taj Mahal. In her inspiring 2013 TED talk (embedded video with link to transcript below), she says she wondered how long it took to build such a gorgeous structure.
To pass the time, she sang John Lennon’s song, Imagine. During her training sessions, she knew she had swum 9 hours and 45 minutes after she sang Imagine 1,000 times. So, several times, during her record-making Gulf swim, she sang Imagine 1,000 times.
Seriously? Can you imagine singing Imagine 1,000 times?
As we embark upon the New Year mindful of the things we want to achieve, let’s keep in mind the price of success. For some, it’s a life-long commitment to achieve what many will later consider an overnight success.
Yet, just like caregiving, we’ll survive, thrive, and even find the joy when we finish what we set out to do. Some of our journeys last a short while — maybe a few months, while others last years. Thirty-five years passed between Nyad’s first attempt and achievement.
When the going gets rough and the stinging jellyfish and sharks threaten, Never Give Up. At least, caregiving is not this life-threatening!