I can't seem to stop crying today. This morning I started when my friends were here and we talked about their amazing, beautiful daughter who died last May. Yeah, it started then, but you know- you get emotional. You just do and some things are worth getting emotional about and you can't help it and you tear up and that's okay, it's more than okay, it's good. It's a real human response to the strength of human hearts and please never let me be ashamed to cry.
And after they left, taking some of my heart with them, I started paying attention to the Diana Nyad story and somehow, miraculously, she was still swimming. Still swimming and Key West was less than ten miles away. I couldn't swim ten miles if my life depended on it but after swimming 90-something miles, I was thinking that for That Woman, probably The World's Greatest Athlete At This Moment, ten miles was nothing. NOTHING and GODDAMMIT, MOTHERFUCK! SHE WAS GOING TO DO IT!
I was watching live streaming, I was on her blog site, I was on her Twitter Feed (hell, I don't even have Twitter), I was all over the place and CNN was posting updates on the TV every now and then and she got closer and closer and she did it. My god, she did.
And I couldn't even talk, my throat was so full of my heart.
And I'm still crying. Honestly, I didn't know that much about Diana Nyad. I've heard her name most of my life and I've cheered for her as she's made her attempts to cross that piece of ocean between Cuba and Key West and been heartbroken for her when she was prevented from doing so by weather, by jellyfish. But, you know...her? Who IS this woman?
I read a fantastic piece from Out Magazine about her and now I know a little more and I love her even more.
It's here if you want to read it. It was written last year when she made her fourth attempt and has been updated.
Turns out she started open-water swimming out of anger. Anger that came from being raped for four years by a high school coach, an Olympian and a Hall of Fame vet, starting when she was fourteen. I read that and my heart broke again. But here's the thing- she was never broken. She may have felt that way, but she never was. She took the anger and she swam and she swam and she got as strong as any person on this earth has the right to be and now she's 64 years old and I hope that when she walked onto shore today after swimming for fifty-three hours, doing something that no one has ever done before, the last of her demons were dispelled.
Diana Nyad proved a lot of things today. She proved that women are far from being the weaker sex if there was still any doubt in anyone's mind. She proved that a woman can be gay and out and that the world can't shut her up. She proved that childhood sexual abuse can be overcome and turned into a sort of fuel for a life of incredible determination and strength. She proved that age is not the defining thing we have all come to believe it is when it comes to physical achievement, strength, and force of will. She proved that the craziest dreams can come true if you work harder than anyone in their right mind would ever work. She proved that being the world's greatest athlete (and I'm standing by that one) doesn't mean you look anything at all like a Baywatch babe.
She proved all of that.
Or maybe she didn't prove any of it at all. Maybe she just proved that she's absolutely a magnificent human being. One whose like may never be seen again.
I don't know. And it doesn't matter.
She did it. She jumped into the water in Cuba and she swam to the United States and she walked out of the water by herself and she had the presence of mind, despite her complete and utter exhaustion, to say a few things.
If I ever, in my lifetime, need to be reminded of what perseverance and determination and sheer beauty look like, remind me to watch that video.
And as she said, she didn't do it alone. That's important to remember too. But I will say this- not just any crazy fool could talk a team of people the likes of the one she had into believing in her dream too. No. She didn't do that swim alone but she was the one who did it.
I'm crying again.
Sometimes I just feel like humanity is nothing but a doomed experiment and that all of us are pretty much lost and misguided and that we're born and we struggle and we die. And then someone like Diana Nyad comes along and reminds me that yeah, all that may be true, but fuck. There is some motherfucking sheer wonder and magnificence going on too.
And despite all evidence to the contrary, it can be an amazing thing to be a human being on Planet Earth which is mostly water, a piece of it which Diana Nyad swam across with yes, a team to help her, but no team on this watery earth could provide her with the grit, the guts, the soul and spirit it took her to raise her arms over and over and over again to get her from Cuba to Key West and I think the whole world is a little better off for her accomplishment.
And we should all be crying.
Here's to Diana Nyad and here's to spirit and here's to soul. Here's to dreams and here's to pain and here's to living through it all to achieve impossible goals with nothing more than heart and blood and muscle and bone and flesh and will.
I am in awe and wonderment. And I'm still crying and it's okay.