Last week I spent a lot of time thinking about Diana Nyad's amazing swim from Cuba to Key West. The woman blows me away. I love her passion for and dedication to a dream. If we all spent more time focusing on things like that and less time worrying about minutiae we'd be happier.
Anyway ... the mantra she used over and over throughout the swim was "Find a Way." That process of focusing her mind on moving around and through obstacles kept her swimming for 53+ hours. She wouldn't give up.
For the last several weeks I've been thinking about the people I have known throughout my life. One of the greatest joys of Facebook has been the opportunity to reconnect with so many of them and discover that they have been living lives that are interesting and wonderful. They have successes and setbacks, they love and they play. They find joy in so many different things. They have fears and make stupid mistakes. They do great big things and they do small things that might impact just one person. They've raised children and are intimately involved with their grandkids. They are normal ... just like me.
There are people who I knew only as acquaintances when I was younger and I find that I missed so much of who they were because I was so self-involved. I have met friends online through other friends and discover amazing connections and relationships, even though I may never meet these people in person. They are creative ... they are gorgeous ... they are funny ... they are tender ... they are talented ... they are amazing.
They love animals and explore places in the world I will never see in person. Some of their beliefs are different than mine and some of them make me wonder if they've lost their minds. They obsess over the craziest things and are as vulnerable to hoaxes and lies as the next person. They are normal ... just like me.
But the thing I've discovered is how much I love these people. I laugh with them when they share their crazy antics, I get emotional when they share their successes and I cry with them when they feel loss and pain. I am terrified that because I have opened myself up to so many more people, I am going to have to experience that many more deaths and painful outcomes. However, my love for my friends tells me I can't do anything else. I don't want to ever lose these connections again. In many cases, it took me over 25 years to find my friends and I won't give that up without a fight. Even if I have to be here, watching as they go through pain.
One of the things I've discovered as I watch this is that Diana Nyad's mantra - "Find A Way" - is more than just a mantra. It's a way of life for most of us. We might whine and complain when confronted with a struggle, but we find a way through it. I have seen extraordinary love and joy, support and encouragement come to people in their darkest days. These connections help us find a way.
Most of all, though, I find that I am so stinking proud of the people I know who have found their way through a life that is filled with twists and turns, pain and struggle. My heart thrills with them as their kids graduate or succeed ... as they find new outlets for their creativity ... or move mountains that seemed immovable. They start new businesses, try new avocations, complete big projects, move on to new careers. They find ways to make their dreams come true, they meet new people, reach beyond themselves to new heights, they encourage others to do the same.
I am in love with the people who surround me, whether in person or online. I am constantly made aware of how wonderful they are ... how wonderful we all are.