Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Keeping at It

There were several big stories in the news yesterday. But few seemed as impressive as the fact that Diana Nyad had been successful in swimming from Cuba to the Florida Keys. That's 110 miles and she swam for 52 hours, 54 minutes to complete the trip.

Oh, and she is 64 years old.

When I heard the news, it was announced simply as, "She made it" and I knew immediately what that meant.

"Really?" I responded. "Wow."

The fact that anyone could swim from Cuba to the Florida Keys is remarkable. The fact that this 64-year-old could make the successfully complete the trip was nothing short of phenomenal.

One has to wonder why she would even want to set a record in endurance swimming. Such a feat might well be matched and likely bettered by another swimmer, perhaps soon after Nyad's victory. The world is filled with adventurers who would love nothing more than topping the previous act.

The entire concept of endurance swimming seems a little self-serving because it involves no competition and few actual followers. Scores of people do not camp-out or line the path to watch the endeavor. The story had little media hype or coverage other than remarks to the effect of "There she goes again."

But you really have to admire someone who sets any type of personal goal and then keeps at it until they are victorious.

In Nyad's case, her effort at this goal began in 1978 when she experienced the first of four unsuccessful attempts to cross the open sea.. Reportedly she did not try again until she reached the age of 60 and then said she felt compelled to resume trying to achieve her goal.

How many people do you know with that type of persistence? I can honestly say I know of no one personally although I have heard and read of such chutzpah. I have also long admired those who will go to great lengths to accomplish a particular task.

We live in an era of quitting. We are surrounded by throngs of folks with short attention spans. They can't wait for a slow search engine, a long check-out line or too many commercials on TV. They click, switch, balk and fidget when delayed in any manner.

Young people want a new car when they first learn to drive, not the older but reliable car that we cherished while in high school. Young couples want their first house to be their dream house with all the bells and whistles, granite countertops, 4,000 square feet, 4 bedrooms and a home theatre. The current way of thinking is: "Let's get it now or forget it."

Gone are the days when newbies entered the work force and were happy just to have a job, any job. Now they want to impress their friends right away by having their own office, perks and privileges. Why wait for what you want now? What's the point in waiting? Can't afford it? Just charge it and move on.

Somewhere between wanting nothing and wanting everything should be a happy spot where we could be content. It would be nice if we could reach that plateau.

Not that I expect Diana Nyad's victory to transform our extremely impatient society. But it's nice to know there are still folks out there with high principles and a great deal of drive. These are the people who help us maintain the bar at a reasonable height, even if we can't manage to raise it.

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