Saturday, May 15, 2010

Maybe It's Time For You To Achieve Your Dreams

Whether it's a diploma at 94, or sailing around the world at  the tender age of sixteen,  two women proved today they were neither too old or too young to achieve a dream.

Hazel Soares was one of 500 undergraduates to pick up diplomas at Saturday's commencement ceremony at Mills College in Oakland, California. After achieving  her lifelong dream with plenty of help, she has made plans to be a docent at a San Francisco Bay area museum.

Nola Ochs of Kansas holds a place as oldest to graduate at age 95 according to the Guinness Book of World Records, a feat she topped on Saturday when she received her master's degree in liberal studies from Fort Hays State University.

Meanwhile, not something to try at home is the feat of Australian Jessica Watson, 16, who sailed around the world during the last seven months in complete solitude. She became the youngest person to sail around the globe solo, nonstop and unassisted in a pink 34 foot yacht dubbed Pink Lady.

Jessica Watson, 16, on the Pink Lady  Reuters

 The Wall Street Journal claims "she successfully maneuvered her boat through raging storms, 40-foot waves and seven knockdowns during the 23,000 nautical mile journey that critics thought she wouldn't survive."

She said storms gave her moments of doubt, but she kept her spirits up. "You don't actually have a choice - you're in the middle of a storm, you're being knocked down -- you can't fall apart." She wrote of seeing "stunning sunrises over glassy seas...spotting a blue whale and the dazzling, eerie sight of a shooting star racing across the night sky above her boat." She also "had "Silly" a brown seabird that landed on her yacht and kept her company." Jessica is looking forward to getting her driver's license, which the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd assured her she would pass "with flying colors."  Experts say her astonishing feat had high risk of a catastrophic outcome.

These two strong women proved wrong doubters who assumed they wouldn't succeed. I have to admit I was one of them. While they are  highly resilient and independent and self-reliant, they also are blessed with good health and support. If they hadn't tried, they wouldn't have succeeded. And the reason it's news has to do with their ages, proving achievements happen that make age irrelevant and unimportant.

Having a sixteen year old girl myself, I wouldn't encourage courageous acts. When she left I felt sorrowful and didn't like it her parents let her go despite the fact they evidently had the meant to give her a yacht. People get accused of child abuse for far less, not that I am saying her parents should be.

The project to me sounded foolhardy from inception. Seven times the yacht blew over and had to be upturned alone, high winds, killer waves...She has been blessed and her parents are very fortunate and she will gain unknown rewards, no doubt. At the same time, I wouldn't give a yacht to my daughter to travel alone around the world and expect to see her again.

Was she more or less likely to return alive had she traveled with a crew, or at least one other person? What do you think?

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