Diana Nyad has proven that it’s possible to do anything we set our minds on. Diana lives by Mary Oliver’s famous words “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”
When I arrived at Olivia Travel’s week at Club Med Ixtapa a day late, I was horrified to find out that I had missed Diana Nyad’s inspiring talk that had been scheduled for the first night. My friends told me she was amazing and that her overriding message was that life gets better as we grow older, and we should stop at nothing to achieve our dreams.
One morning Diana invited my friend and I to join her for breakfast along with with her best friend, Candace Hogan. Over gluten-free pancakes and strong coffee, I sat spellbound, listening to Diana describe her childhood escapades and unbelievable astrological chart, all 12 planets in Leo. Her face lights up when she talks—and then suddenly she’ll look you dead in the eye and ask all about you. She watches your face with a sharp focus as you try to answer her direct questions coherently. There is a glow about her and an intensity that is hard to describe; she is a human being that has transcended the ordinary, and yet she remains humble and genuine.
Candace’s fascinating story followed, all about becoming the first female sports journalist, and what it was like to be a key player in helping Title Nine get implemented in the 70’s. She worked alongside Billie Jean King at WomenSports Magazine and is the only person to have accompanied Diana on all five of her 103-mile Cuba-to-Florida swim attempts.
Next came the mid-day pool party where Diana entertained a group of wild lesbians, and delighted the crowd by jumping in the pool commando style! Later in the afternoon we went boogie boarding and then for a swim along the beach. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, my hero told me to keep the pair of swim goggles she had loaned me!
This woman is as beautiful as she is intense. After seeing the pictures of her post-swim—yikes!—I was amazed that in her 60’s she could easily pass for early 40’s. More than that, what impressed me was her gracious generosity and humility. She thought nothing of patiently teaching my friend how to boogie board or giving me thoughtful suggestions on how to improve my swim stroke.
I was sad to say goodbye to Candace and Diana, who had to leave our week in Ixtapa early to attend the premier of Diana’s spectacular documentary, The Other Shore. I’d just spent time with one of the most inspiring people in the world, and this was an experience I will never forget.
It gives me clarity for my own life and hope for those whom I love. If we all lived like Diana, even if only for a day, what might we do to change the world?