Dr. Wayne Baker is away and welcomes back guest columnist Terry Gallagher, communications director for a non-profit environmental organization in Ann Arbor.
Diana Nyad hopes to swim from Cuba to Florida, a distance of more than 100 miles. She invites the whole world to follow her via her website (click here or on the image at right). She’s been waiting for the right conditions and clearances.
One observer called the challenge “the most outlandish, outrageous, unbelievable physical endurance activity of, certainly, my lifetime.”
While the swim might be newsworthy at any time, the real interest in Nyad’s attempt this time is that she’s 61 years old. She attempted the same swim once before, in 1978, when she was 28 years old.
What’s different now?
“Physically, I am much stronger than I was before, although I was faster in my 20s,” Nyad told the New York Times. “I feel strong, powerful and endurance-wise, I’m fit.”
This week in this column, we’re asking the question, “When did you get old?” It’s a question for individuals, but also for organizations and governments that seem reluctant to learn new ways, to adapt to changing circumstances.
Athletes might give us a useful example. In a New York Times story about Nyad’s swim, a medical researcher pointed out that “older athletes, particularly superb ones, do well in endurance sports, because experience and training can offset the need for speed.”
How about for the rest of us, the non-superb athletes?
What qualities do we have that can “offset the need for speed”?
Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.