Monday, September 2, 2013

A Magnificent Human Being

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.


  1. Yes ... and now I watched the video and I am crying.

  2. Indeed! I wrote a post right after she came ashore! sobbing all the way ...

  3. She is magnificent. I tried to find out more about her but did not come across her life story. Thank you for finding it and sharing it as it is quite inspiring. Sweet Jo

  4. somehow I knew you would be *on* to this amazing achievement today! We watched the last few miles and just knew she would succeed this time, cheering her on. Amen to your blog post, definitely an extraordinary human being in so many ways.
    Susan from Cayucos

  5. You know she lives -- or used to -- near me and visited my husband's cafe/store all the time when it was open. She's a lovely person in real life -- everyone loves her. I real Diana -- a goddess.

  6. Kelly M- That means you're alive. Howdy! Welcome!

    Carolyn- We should all write about her.

    Lisa- Thanks for the FB shout-out. I mean it.

    Sweet Jo- Isn't she just an amazing human being? Isn't she?

    Susan from Cayucos- Well hello! Thanks for being here, taking the time to comment. And isn't this a day for celebration?

    Elizabeth- I had no idea. But I am not surprised somehow. Yes. She is a GODDESS. Living here among us.

  7. Without a shark cage. Holy mother of gawd. She's something, isn't she? I <3 Diana Naiad.

    XXXX B

  8. Angella- That is the only word to describe her.

    Beth Coyote- God. Me too. I feel like I need to go light a candle to her.

  9. I have been trying to follow her. You Ms. Moon are my real life up to dater... SHE ROCKS! My tears give me spirit, Perhaps she will make it to over ride all the negative news. She is a huge rainbow on a cloudy day.Go Diana Go.

  10. Well, gracious. You had a dose of emotional labor on this Extra Sunday.

    "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."

    Yes. Yes, me too. And that is a hard, hard hole to crawl out of when you hit that place.

    Love you.

  11. What a triumph of strength and perseverance---made me smile. I read that the boats accompanying her put out electrical signals that created a sort of vibrational shark cage to help protect her.

  12. Your post has helped me to see how amazing her achievement really is. I mean, I knew it was amazing, but you've cast it in new, spectacular light. Thanks for that!

  13. Amazing, truly. She's given us so much to think about. She didn't know how this chapter would end. It could have been another failed attempt. She did it anyway.
    Beautiful post, Mrs. Moon.

  14. I love how open and big your heart is and how your emotions are right there, so close to the surface.

  15. mary i- No kidding! As she said in an interview when she was leaving the hospital- "The world needed this message right now." She is right.

    SJ- I know. But sometimes other people do things that are so amazing that it's like they're leaning over, extending their hands to help the rest of us out. Sort of?

    A- Yes, I read that too. Wouldn't be enough for ME, but it seemed to have worked well. Bless her. And her team.

    Steve Reed- It just really resonated with me and I was not expecting that, to be honest.

    Denise- That is so true. It most definitely could have ended in another failure. But she did it anyway! God. I just love her.

    heartinhand- No one can ever accuse me of being guarded, can they?

  16. I followed a little of it last year and was sad that she didn't make it so when she went back and tried again I was sooooo happy for her. I cried, too! Oh, yes I did. And I made my son turn off the movie he was watching to switch to the live feed of her approaching land. I think he wondered why I was crying, but he watched it with me. And my husband came in and watched. And it was a wonderful moment.
    And then I went out for awhile but my husband called and told me that a coworker's son died. He was only in his 20s.
    Triumph and tragedy in the same afternoon.

    Beautiful post. I enjoyed reading it.

  17. What an uplifting feat of human determination. I realize just how great she is because she didn't cheat with steroids or blood doping. She did it with her own will and muscle and bone. Good for her.

  18. Crystal Chick- The embodiment of the human spirit at its best. Really and truly.
    And I am so sorry about that boy who died. One absolutely never knows what is about to happen.

    Syd- I was thinking of that the other day. And it occurred to me that even if she HAD used any of those substances, I would still love her. Fuck it. Is that wrong? But when it all boils down to the bottom, Nyad had to keep moving forward despite pain and fatigue and what had to be the incredibly seductive thought of quitting and getting some rest and relief. I don't think she DID use any doping of any kind- that's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying that it had to be her bone, her muscle, her heart that kept her going, no matter what.


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