'60 is the new 40'...well, not quite

Dateline: Wed 10 Aug 2011

Diana Nyad, 61, an extremely tough and gifted athlete, had boasted that '60 is the new 40' as part of her publicity campaign to swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida, this past week.

On Tuesday, shaking and crying, after 29 hours in choppy, icy-cold water, she gave it up.

"I was shaking and freezing, and I thought, there's no mind over matter anymore," Nyad is quoted in the Stamford, Connecticut CTPost newspaper (she has connections to that city). A severe bout with asthma, never before suffered, handicapped her for 11 hours, as did a painfully sore shoulder.

The trek is 103 miles and would have taken about 29 hours. She made it about 50 miles.

Bully for her -- not so much for what she accomplished as for what she did not.

Those of us who are aging are grateful that exercise, vitamins, medicine and good living habits in general increase our capacity, longevity and enjoyment of life. But let's get real. Sixty is not 40. In the past, Nyad swam 102.5 miles in 1979 from the Bahamas to Florida. She was 32 years old then.

I've been reading a fine book. "Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why," by Laurence Gonzales. Among the many "adventure" stories related is one about a voyage from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Florida, in a yacht. The captain and first mate are heavy drinkers, so when a storm hits, they are ill-prepared to save the ship. The author's focus is on Debbie Kiley, an experienced sailor who lives through the ordeal (unlike three others).

At one point, now in a dinghy, Kiley and the others cover themselves with seaweed to protect themselves from the night cold. Kiley discoveres the seaweed "sustained a vast number of tiny creatures...'I was dazzled by the life it supported, an entire world, self-sufficient and complete.'

"To be open to the world in which you find yourself, to be able to experience wonder at its magnificence, is to begin to admit its reality and adapt to it. Be here now," writes Gonzales.

"It is to place yourself in relation to it, to say: Before I came here, the world was as it is now; after I am gone, it will be that way still. To experience wonder is to know this truth: The world won't adapt to me. I must adapt to it.

"To experience humility is the true survivor's correct response to catastrophe."

Hence Nyad's failure to make her challenging swim is more meaningful, at many levels, than her success would have been. And talk about a lesson in "The world won't adapt to me. I must adapt to it."

 



Comments

B2 [unverified] said:

Truly admired Nyad's grit. She dared mightily. Point of information, the waters are not ice-cold but a balmy 87 degrees. However, since her body temp is 98, it can cause hypothermia.

2011-08-11 08:36:43

hendy [Member] said:

+1

2011-08-11 09:03:52

news junkie [Member] said:

Also, unusually high winds pushed her several miles off course.

2011-08-11 11:07:24

Seneca [unverified] said:

People who deliberately put themselves in harm's way for whatever reason, from the "thrill of it all" to "60 wanting to be 40" are stupid. They deserve whatever might happen to them. I have no sympathy for them.

2011-08-11 11:22:19

farmgirl [unverified] said:

As long as they don't put others in harm's way rescuing them. I am thinking of all those mountain climbers who put their rescuers in danger...

2011-08-11 14:05:30

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

Someone peed in Seneca's Wheaties.

Lighten up pal. You'll bust a vessel or something.

2011-08-11 17:55:34

hendy [Member] said:

Courage at any age is a good thing, so long as it's not an endangering to others. I'm almost 60 and drive to work most days-- very dangerous. Why? You never know what might happen out there.

I buy food at the grocery, too. Dangerous! Why? You never know what kind of salmonella and botulism is out there. Yeesh.

And the most dangerous thing I do? Vote Democratic, because all of those NRA gun nuts are just itching to find evidence of insurrection so they can shoot me.

Bah.

2011-08-12 11:06:21

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