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Book & Movie Club - NYAD

I don’t follow sports, but man alive do I love sports movies and their ability to make anyone think they can conquer the impossible!

Case in point Nyad, starring Annette Benning as Diana Nyad and Jodie Foster as Bonnie Stoll. It tells the story of Diana Nyad’s multiple attempts to swim in open water from Cuba to Florida. The journey is guided by her coach and best friend, Bonnie.

Oh, and did I mention Diana does this in her 60s? Thirty years after her first failed attempt to swim this distance.

With each failed attempt, Diana comes closer and closer to dying in pursuit of her lifelong dream. A sudden change in weather nearly drowns her in a massive storm. Multiple jelly fish attacks leave her immune system so depleted, the next sting will kill her instantly. Oh, and she’s under constant threat of shark attacks.

Diana is a lifelong athlete who knows failure is life’s greatest teacher. Each time she and Bonnie decide to quit, Diana comes back with a new solution. This time will work!

Each time her coach and best friend reluctantly agrees to try one more time - until the final attempt.

In the scene Diana is still healing from the last near-fatal jelly fish attack. Scars red and inflamed. Visible reminders of how close she came to dying and the near-certain death that awaits her at sea.

Bonnie refuses to go.

Diana and Bonnie launch into an epic argument, finally giving voice to what they both fear most: this quest will kill our hero.

Diana accepts this, saying the quest will kill her either way. She could die at sea or she could die from disappointment at quitting on her dream. She would rather die trying.

But it’s Bonnie’s acceptance that truly frees both athlete and coach.

In a speech sure to win all the awards for Jodie Foster, Bonnie promises that if Diana dies, Bonnie wants to be the last face Diana sees.

It wasn’t the fear of Diana dying, but the fear of what it would do to Bonnie that haunted those past missions. Diana couldn’t push herself because she didn’t want to traumatize Bonnie.

Spoiler alert, Diana reaches the Florida shores exhausted, but alive in the next attempt.

This story and how it unfolds in the film beautifully explores how we often back away from our goals or dreams for fear of how it will impact others. We don’t claim a spotlight because we don’t want to intimidate others. Or we don’t share an opinion online for fear of what people might think.

We don’t enjoy success because we worry others may be jealous.

How often do you check in with these other people to see if how we think they’re going to feel is, in fact, how they feel?

And how freeing would it be to learn the truth?


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