Unless you’re living under a rock, you should know who Diana Nyad is by now. If you don’t, I’ll simply say that she’s a 64 year old woman who swam from Cuba to Florida recently. This feat boggles my mind on so many levels and she reminded me of a few important life lessons I can use as a father.
Yes, I know this swim is currently under scrutiny, but I’m operating under the rule of “innocent until proven guilty.” With that said, let’s begin.
LESSON #1 – She’s another excellent example that strong women exist: Don’t get me wrong here – I KNOW strong women exist. Everywhere I turn I see strong women. However, there are some mouth-breathing neanderthals in our society who think women are weak and should spend their days barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen making sandwiches. I gotta believe that this feat would even make the most sexist and misogynistic caveman take a step back and think, “Damn, that was pretty impressive.” More importantly, I can share this story with my baby girls to tell them that it’s OK to be strong, it’s OK to get dirty, it’s OK to know how to properly throw a punch, it’s OK to challenge the boys in physical activities, it’s OK to know how to change a flat tire, it’s OK to run businesses and lead corporations, and it’s OK to step out of any antiquated gender roles that society may place them in. The fact that DDW1 runs around our condo pretending to be Spider-Man shows me that I’m on the right track in that regard.
LESSON #2 – Maybe we’ll stop focusing on TWW: One of my good female friends uses the acronym TWW for “Train-Wreck Women.” If you need an example of a TWW, just type “Miley Cyrus VMA” into Google and see what comes up. Maybe it’s because I live in Los Angeles (the alleged entertainment capital of the world), but the coverage of Hannah Montana’s meltdown received way more coverage out here than Diana Nyad’s historic feat. And maybe I’m growing into a prude, but I don’t find the Miley Cyrus story interesting, and I’m not pointing and laughing at her cringeworthy free fall. In all seriousness, she’s a young woman who needs some professional help. TWW like Miley Cyrus and Lindsay Lohan scare the shit out of me, because somewhere there’s a little girl who looks at these women as role models for coolness. That’s a shame, because I don’t find them to be cool or inspirational.
Diana Nyad is cool and inspirational. Oprah Winfrey is cool and inspirational. Ellen DeGeneres is cool and inspirational. Michelle Obama is cool and inspirational. Tina Fey is cool and inspirational. If my girls choose to find female role models outside of our family, I hope they’ll find women like the ones I just mentioned and not some TWW.
LESSON #3 – Enough of the mindless complaining: I’m really tired. I think I mentioned that fact in my past six blog posts. Guess what? There’s not one of you with a tiny human in your home who isn’t tired. Am I wrong? However, when I heard Diana’s story of how she swam for over 50 straight hours, my mind was completely blown. Can you think of anything you’d be willing to do for 50 hours straight? I sure as hell can’t. And if I could, swimming absolutely wouldn’t be it. Staying awake for 18 hours straight is enough to make me want to curl up in the fetal position and cry. This woman stayed awake for 18 straight hours THREE TIMES IN A ROW (meaning 50+ hours)…WHILE SWIMMING…IN SHARK-INFESTED, JELLYFISH-INFESTED WATERS…WITHOUT A PROTECTIVE CAGE…AS A 64 YEAR OLD WOMAN! Seriously, wrap your head around that for a moment. If that’s not one of the top ten most amazing displays of mental and physical toughness of all-time, I don’t know what is. Sure, I may slip every now and then – but I’m making a concerted effort not to whine about how tired I am anymore. We all have issues. Let’s Man Up/Mom Up and handle them.
LESSON #4 – Anything is possible: Sorry, but I have to repeat this again: DIANA NYAD SWAM FOR 50+ HOURS…IN SHARK-INFESTED, JELLYFISH-INFESTED WATERS…WITHOUT A PROTECTIVE CAGE…AS A 64 YEAR OLD WOMAN! About a month ago, if I heard someone was going to attempt that, I probably would’ve laughed in that person’s face. But she did it. And that’s great news for all of us.
Do you want to open a business, lose 50 lbs, find the ideal man/woman who will love you deeply, or go back to college? Why not do it? I’m going out on a limb here, but I doubt any of the things I just listed are more difficult than what Diana did. If you think Diana’s story is too extreme, think about what happened to me. A mere 15 months ago, I was just another random knucklehead with a WordPress account starting a blog with zero followers – and now I’m a random knucklehead lucky enough to have literary representation and a book deal. I really can’t stress this enough - if I can reach my dream, so can any of you. Like I said multiple times before in previous blog posts, a year from now you’ll wish you went after your dreams today.
LESSON #5 – Haters are gonna hate: Yep, I’m going to repeat it again: DIANA NYAD SWAM FOR 50+ HOURS…IN SHARK-INFESTED, JELLYFISH-INFESTED WATERS…WITHOUT A PROTECTIVE CAGE…AS A 64 YEAR OLD WOMAN! Because of that, people are coming out of the woodwork to say, there’s no way she did this legitimately. Some people are saying she hitched a boat ride during part of her swim. Some are saying she’s fame-obsessed and has no interest in helping her sport. Some are saying she’s on performance enhancing drugs. It’s all noise to me. I have no clue if she cheated or not during her swim – and quite frankly, I’d still be extremely impressed if she did it while sprouting mermaid fins and a motor out of her rear end. Unlike her critics, I’m rolling with the philosophy that she’s innocent until proven guilty – and I will celebrate this accomplishment until I have a reason not to.
Chalk this up to being just another example that there is not one person on the planet adding value without dealing with haters in the process. To prove my point, please raise your hand if you don’t have haters or never experienced what it’s like to be hated on?
I have haters, you have haters, and our kids will have haters too (if they don’t already have them). My goal is to teach my girls to never let the naysayers get in the way from living their best lives possible.
LESSON #6 – Never give up: Diana attempted this feat multiple times in the past and failed. Sure, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an expert when it comes to swimming from Cuba to Florida, but I’ll go out on a limb again to say that it’s probably really hard to do – especially at her age. I don’t know Diana, I’ve never spoken to Diana, and I don’t know what motivates Diana – but I’ll also guess that this woman would’ve reached this goal or died trying. That’s how important this was to her.
That brings me to my favorite quote of all-time, delivered by Mr. Will Smith. Our dreams have to be something we’re willing to work extremely hard for, and to die on the proverbial treadmill for. Never give up on them. Ever.
In closing, I highly doubt this blog post will ever reach Diana, but if it does – I hope she knows how inspiring she is to me and how she inspires me to be a better dad to my little girls. Thank you for showing the world what true mental and physical toughness is all about – and thank you for being a woman that little girls can look up to.
Now get some rest. If anyone deserves it, it’s you.