You may well have heard of the woman who swam from Cuba to Florida without a protective shark cage. Her face was puckered by the sun and the salt and the specialized jellyfish mask she wore. Afterward, she was sore and tired, a wreck of accomplishment, helped smiling to and fro. She had tried the 110-mile swim four times before, but had been yanked from the water for delusion or fatigue or shark attack.
Yet now she has done it! And at 64 years-old, it was none-too-soon, either. Her life’s goal attained; her Everest scaled; her moment arrived. And then, just like that, gone, a headline, then a memory, then a moment, then forgotten.
And it makes me wonder this for the distance swimmer: What now?
What does one do when death tarries and dreams are actually had? Sure, failing is empty and striving is hard, but truly conquering seems all the worse. To yearn for something, to train for it, to live and be willing to die for it, and then, just like that, to have it, hold it, then see the world look on at the feat, then let go of the feat, and walk away from the whole charade. Now to me, this seems like perhaps the cruelest challenge of all.
I don’t know what that woman does now, but I know this: it takes a whole lot more than a swim from Cuba to Florida to find fulfillment. It takes more than a swim with the sharks; it takes drowning altogether.
I hope this woman is fulfilled, but not by her incredible–for the moment–feat. I hope we all are seeking that same fulfillment, that kind that is unending like the churning sea, as we beat our way along, flailing and breathing and searching for land.
For it is land we are after: land and air and life. May we drown our way to it this day and forever.