Diana Nyad: Never, ever give up (2)
And then there are the crises.
Of course there are. And the vomiting starts, the seawater, you're not well, you're wearing a jellyfish mask for the ultimate protection. It's difficult to swim in. It's causing abrasions on the inside of the mouth, but the tentacles can't get you. And the hypothermia sets in. The water's 85 degrees, and yet you're losing weight and using calories, and as you come over toward the side of the boat, not allowed to touch it, not allowed to get out, but Bonnie and her team hand me nutrition and asks me what I'm doing, am I all right, I am seeing the Taj Mahal over here. I'm in a very different state, and I'm thinking, wow, I never thought I'd be running into the Taj Mahal out here. It's gorgeous. I mean, how long did it take them to build that? It's just -- So, uh, wooo. (Laughter) And then we kind of have a cardinal rule that I'm never told, really, how far it is, because we don't know how far it is. What's going to happen to you between this point and that point? What's going to happen to the weather and the currents and, God forbid, you're stung when you don't think you could be stung in all this armor, and Bonnie made a decision coming into that third morning that I was suffering and I was hanging on by a thread and she said, "Come here," and I came close to the boat, and she said, "Look, look out there," and I saw light, because the day's easier than the night, and I thought we were coming into day, and I saw a stream of white light along the horizon, and I said, "It's going to be morning soon." And she said, "No, those are the lights of Key West." It was 15 more hours, which for most swimmers would be a long time. (Laughter) (Applause) You have no idea how many 15-hour training swims I had done. So here we go, and I somehow, without a decision, went into no counting of strokes and no singing and no quoting Stephen Hawking and the parameters of the universe, I just went into thinking about this dream, and why, and how.
And as I said, when I turned 60, it wasn't about that concrete "Can you do it?" That's the everyday machinations. That's the discipline, and it's the preparation, and there's a pride in that. But I decided to think, as I went along, about, the phrase usually is reaching for the stars, and in my case, it's reaching for the horizon. And when you reach for the horizon, as I've proven, you may not get there, but what a tremendous build of character and spirit that you lay down. What a foundation you lay down in reaching for those horizons. And now the shore is coming, and there's just a little part of me that's sad.
The epic journey is going to be over. So many people come up to me now and say, "What's next?
We love that! That little tracker that was on the computer? When are you going to do the next one? We just can't wait to follow the next one." Well, they were just there for 53 hours, and I was there for years. And so there won't be another epic journey in the ocean. But the point is, and the point was that every day of our lives is epic, and I'll tell you, when I walked up onto that beach, staggered up onto that beach, and I had so many times in a very puffed up ego way, rehearsed what I would say on the beach.
When Bonnie thought that the back of my throat was swelling up, and she brought the medical team over to our boat to say that she's really beginning to have trouble breathing. Another 12, 24 hours in the saltwater, the whole thing -- and I just thought in my hallucinatory moment, that I heard the word tracheotomy. (Laughter) And Bonnie said to the doctor, "I'm not worried about her not breathing. If she can't talk when she gets to the shore, she's gonna be pissed off." (Laughter) But the truth is, all those orations that I had practiced just to get myself through some training swims as motivation, it wasn't like that.
It was a very real moment, with that crowd, with my team. We did it. I didn't do it. We did it. And we'll never forget it. It'll always be part of us. And the three things that I did sort of blurt out when we got there, was first, "Never, ever give up.
I live it. What's the phrase from today from Socrates? To be is to do. So I don't stand up and say, don't ever give up. I didn't give up, and there was action behind these words. The second is, "You can chase your dreams at any age; you're never too old.
Sixty-four, that no one at any age, any gender, could ever do, has done it, and there's no doubt in my mind that I am at the prime of my life today. (Applause) Yeah. Thank you.
And the third thing I said on that beach was, "It looks like the most solitary endeavor in the world, and in many ways, of course, it is, and in other ways, and the most important ways, it's a team, and if you think I'm a badass, you want to meet Bonnie.
(Laughter) Bonnie, where are you?
Where are you? There's Bonnie Stoll. (Applause) My buddy. The Henry David Thoreau quote goes, when you achieve your dreams, it's not so much what you get as who you have become in achieving them.
And yeah, I stand before you now. In the three months since that swim ended, I've sat down with Oprah and I've been in President Obama's Oval Office. I've been invited to speak in front of esteemed groups such as yourselves. I've signed a wonderful major book contract. All of that's great, and I don't denigrate it. I'm proud of it all, but the truth is, I'm walking around tall because I am that bold, fearless person, and I will be, every day, until it's time for these days to be done. Thank you very much and enjoy the conference.
(Applause) Thank you. Thank you.
Find a way! (Applause)