A week ago today, after three years of training to swim from Florida to Cuba, Diana Nyad told reporters:
“I’m not going to get that moment I dreamed of for so long.”
After swimming 48 miles, she was pulled out of the ocean by her operations director because of dangerous thunderstorms, and severe jellyfish stings on her mouth and face. At first, she was upset for being pulled out, but as she and her team talked about it, it became clear that this was a feat, she was not going to conquer.
Initially, when she was pulled from the water, she said:
“But I have plenty left in me and I want to go on.”
Isn’t that how we all feel when a dream we have worked for, for so long, all of a sudden feels pulled from our grasp? Even though all signs point otherwise, we so strongly feel “I can do this”–that coming to a point of acceptance is almost an out-of-body experience. We’ve worked, trained even, for that moment when we would be able to see the finish line and be able to say on some level “I have arrived.” But in one moment, or through a series of moments, we watch as our dream slips away.
When Nyad was interview on the Today Show, a day later, the sixty-three-year-old swimmer was much more optimistic. She said she didn’t regret one part of her journey and that it was magnificent. Though it was her fifth time trying, very few of us would be able to so gracefully back down so quickly. Some of us, like Nyad can say we had a great team, a magnificent journey, and we wouldn’t change a thing. Others of us though, are left with a long list of “what ifs?”
“What if I had done…? Would I have my dream?”
“What if I hadn’t said…?”
“What if I had…?”
Sadly, no matter how many times we go over and over the “what ifs?” our dream is still lost. Its still over. And when we finally realize that and stop questioning our path, we grieve.
Last post, I shared that I have recently been coming to terms with the death of a dream that I have had for a long time. Eight years ago, this weekend, I moved five states away from my family and everything I knew, because I felt it was where God was leading me, and I thought that I was taking the path that would lead to that dream. Elements of my dream existed in what I did for seven years, but never did I reach the point, I saw in my mind, as the “finish line.”
Nine months ago, I left what I thought was the path to my dream, but not without thinking that someday, I would return. Then, over the past couple of weeks, I have begun to realize, I wasn’t really on the path I thought I was on for all of those years.
I wasn’t on the path to my dream.
I was really on the path that lead me to a greater knowledge of myself and God’s love for me. I was on a path in which I got to meet incredible people and literally travel all over the world. It was the way I met some amazing friends and my awesome husband. It truly was the path I needed to be on. To me, it looked like the way to my dream, but it wasn’t, and I am beginning to feel thankful for that. I wasn’t on my path, but I was on God’s path–and I know that because so much good has happened in this place. (Some painfully bad things too, but mostly good).
I am now (finally) in the place between grieving and acceptance.
And I am still on this path, just waiting to know where the next turn will take me.
What dreams of yours feel like they are dead or dying?
Whose path are you on, and where is it leading you?