The inspirational failure story – Diana Nyad’s swim from Cuba

Diana Nyad, in her 60s, recently tried to cross the Florida Straits, swimming from Cuba to the U.S. – she wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream. Early Tuesday morning they pulled her out of the water, violently vomiting, in a severe asthma attack and deep pains in her right shoulder. The Gulf stream had already pushed her six miles off course.

“I’ve never had asthma in the water before, ever,” she said. “And it just sent me into an absolute tailspin,” she said. “We’ll never know what happened.”

“This was such a dream. For two years, I pictured myself walking up on that shore, and I wanted that moment badly,” She said. “I think I’m going to have to go to my grave without swimming from Cuba to Florida.”

“I’m deeply grieved and disappointed, but I can hold my head up high. We pictured that moment of me crawling up on that Key West shore. We knew it was my year and my time, even at age 61. It was a fairy tale, but the fairy tale didn’t come true.”

“It was over, I knew it — my body was at its absolute very end. Will power wasn’t a part of it anymore.”

What’s wrong? This isn’t a fairy tale ending. From my perspective, nothing is I’m sad for her she didn’t make it, but this is one of my favorite inspirational stories – following a dream that doesn’t come true in an obvious way. We hear so many inspirational success stories, see so many Hollywood that there is perhaps some internal assumption in us that if we dream it and try it, it will definitely come true.

That isn’t the case. Ultimate success? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

To me, the beauty of dreaming your impossible dream and going for it is in the quest itself. The ending is secondary. That’s why hearing about someone’s quest that wasn’t ultimately successful (by certain measures) is so refreshing and can be so uplifting. Whatever your dream, focus on the process of the quest. Let the end take care of itself – often that end is something you can’t control. That’s so courageous.

Here’s what Dana Nyad said after her failed attempt:

She said she wanted to show people over 60 that “life is not over.”

“To live a life with no regrets and no worries about what you are going to do with your time,” she said. “Fill it with passion, be your best self.”

That’s what I’ll take from her story, and add to mine, whether I’m successful or fail. I hope you do too. Fill your life with passion, be your best self, regardless of the outcome.

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