In 1975, 26-year-old Diana Nyad had yet to attempt her record-setting Cuba to Florida swim, but was beginning to receive notoriety for her marathon swim around Manhattan Island. At that time, her former fifth-grade teacher reached out to her to share an essay she had instructed Nyad to write at age 10. In the above clip, Diana reads that essay, entitled "What I Will Do for the Rest of My Life," during her appearance on "Super Soul Sunday."
My mother says that her father lived to be 79. Her mother's still living and my father's parents are still living. It would probably be a good guess that I will live to 80 years. Which means I have 70 years left to go. I want to see all the countries of the world and learn all the languages. I want to have thousands of friends and I want all my friends to be different. I want to play six instruments.
I want to be a great athlete and I want to be a great surgeon. I need to practice very hard every day. I need to sleep as little as possible. I need to read at least one major book every week. I need to remember that my 70 years are going to go by too quickly.
It's that last sentiment that sticks with Nyad. "I'm saying I need to remember that my 70 years are going by too quickly, and I must say, I have felt that all my life," she says. "As we get older, the clock ticks, but for me it's always ticking."
"You're a person who's always been consciously aware of the time, and the time passing," Oprah observes.
Nyad agrees. "Except that the difference between now, the evolution for me now at this age, is that I used to spend a lot of time beating myself up and regretting the past," she says. "I used to spend a lot of time fantasizing about the future, too, and worrying about the future. Things I can't control. What if this happens, what if that happens?"
Nyad says she's become "more in the power of now," she explains. "If there really are only 18 years left, if I am going to die at 82, then what more can I do about it than be in this chair, looking in your eyes and being in this moment?" she says. "I'm just right here right now and that's the best I can do. What more can I do? And that's the best all we can do is be in the now and do everything in your potential to be the best of yourself in this moment."