Swimmer’s Three Messages Important to Us All
Some say she really did not do it. Others say no one can do it. Some say she must have cheated, because it has never been done before in the way she did it.
They are questioning her, and investigating her, and condemning her all at the same time. I have no personal knowledge of whether she cheated or not, or whether she touched the boat, or took a break on the boat. All I know is it is more than I could do.
Diana Nyad is believed to be the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark cage. This was her fifth attempt; the first attempt was when she was 24, and last attempt at age 64. It was believed to be a 53-hour, 110-mile trip from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Fla.
Since I cannot confirm or deny her effort, I want to talk about what I heard her say when she came out of the water. I do want to at least mention what Eleanor Roosevelt and Aristotle said about great efforts that shock the world.
Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideals, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”
The ideal that it could be done is worth talking about.
Aristotle said, “No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.” It had to be a touch of madness to even try once, let alone five times. It is almost as mad as the ideal that man could fly. Because everybody knows that if God had intended man to fly, he would have given him wings.
I could not find who said it, but I read a quote that said, “Great minds with great ideals are usually persecuted by small minds with no ideals.” At least she tried, and it gave her the stage to make her three important statements.
When she came out of the water, Nyad said, “I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.”
Wow, what a stage and what a message. Number one, “we should never, ever give up.” I was told of a speech where Winston Churchill spoke at his alma mater, Harrow School, on Oct. 29, 1941, and gave a speech that included those very same words. “Never give in; never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force: never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
That is not the whole speech, but I am told the speech was shorter than the introduction, that listed all his accomplishments. That message is still true.
Message number two: “You’re never too old to chase your dream.” Colonel Harland Sanders, according to 1974 autobiography, was a sixth-grade dropout, a farmhand, an Army mule tender, a locomotive fireman, a railroad worker, an aspiring lawyer, an insurance salesman, a ferryboat entrepreneur, a tire salesman, an amateur obstetrician, an unsuccessful political candidate, a gas station operator, a motel operator and finally, a restaurateur. His greatest success did not come until he was retired and 65 years old, getting a Social Security check. Wanting to make a little extra money Sanders ended up making millions.
Golda Meir became the first female prime minister of Israel at the age of 71. She had to come out of retirement to accomplish it. President Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States was the oldest elected president. He was almost 70. I guess you’re never too old to chase you’re dream.
Message number three “It looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.” Dr. John Maxwell says, “If you ever see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know somebody helped it.” You cannot accomplish anything great by yourself. I heard somebody say there is no “I” in team, but there is an “I” in the middle of the word win. You must do your part, but you need a team to help you. Even Jesus had 12 disciples.
I don’t know all the ins and outs about her efforts to swim, but the message Diana Nyad gave is something we can all learn from.
Cummings is pastor of Bethlehem Temple in Wheeling and Shiloh Apostolic Faith Assembly in Weirton.