Thank you, Diana Nyad, for reminding us all of this the other day, when you swam for about 53 hours from Cuba to Florida at the age of 64.
This amazing feat reminded me of the many other people I have heard of who have done incredible things at an advanced age.
- At my last graduation ceremony, one of my fellow students was in his 70’s.
- Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 69.
- Mavis Lindgren ran her first marathon at age 70.
- An ex-boyfriend’s 80 year old mother recently went white water rafting down the Colorado River.
- At age 61, and weighing only 99 pounds, Gandhi walked almost 200 miles to protest the British salt tax.
- My boyfriend’s delightful uncle, in his 70’s, takes advanced math correspondence courses and taught himself how to do stained glass and pottery. He now has his own art studio in his garage.
- As a Learn to Read volunteer, I have encountered many seniors who have chosen to learn to read for the first time in their lives.
- Grandma Moses, the renowned American folk artist, did not begin to paint seriously until she was 76. One of her paintings eventually sold for 1.2 million dollars.
- Reverend Scott Alexander, who lead the church I used to attend, rode his bike 3,300 miles across the country last summer to raise $50,000 and raise awareness about hunger. He is 63 years old.
- Colonel Sanders was 66 when he started Kentucky Fried Chicken.
- Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa when he was 76, and that’s after suffering in prison for 26 years of his life.
- Laura Ingalls Wilder, of “Little House on the Prairie” fame, did not publish her first book until she was 64, and continued to do so until she was 76.
So when Diana Nyad walked out of the ocean on shaky legs, sunburned, exhausted, and with her mouth full of sores from the salt water, and said, “You’re never too old to live your dreams,” she wasn’t kidding. And to make it even more amazing, she had tried, and failed, 4 times before.
Never give up. If there’s something you want to do, like travel or learn or create, don’t let your age stand in your way. Use Diana Nyad’s mantra: Find a way.
Diana Nyad. [Image credit: nytimes.com]