“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
This was said by Frederick Douglass, former slave, social reformer, and author.
Frederick fought obstacles and won, and so did Diana Nyad, who at age 64 became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida. It took 53 straight hours with no breaks and no sleep. To say it taxed all of her inner resources is putting it mildly. Her haggard appearance after the ordeal attests to that. So does her story of struggle and severe challenges.
In an interview with Oprah, she explains that swimming to her “is never about swimming.” It’s about “never giving up, finding your grit, your will, and a way through your obstacles.” Click here to watch a clip from the interview.
Without struggle, we grow sissified and develop a flabby will. Yes, it’s a predictable and comfortable existence, but not a very satisfying one. Life stands still and we’re constantly besieged with chronic boredom. Doctors prescribe pills for that. The pills serve as a welcome numbing agent. In essence, they keep us numbed to the fact that we’ve deserted ourselves.
The opposite of self-desertion is a relentless, unapologetic determination to follow our deepest yearnings, to push through limits and take action—whatever that means to each of us. In some quiet place inside, we know exactly what that is.
For Diana Nyad, it was swimming one hell of a long distance! For Frederick Douglass, it was living from a place of absolute freedom.
Diana Nyad. Frederick Douglass. I see no difference.