When I was 11, more than half my spine was fused to two Harrington rods to prevent it from curving further into the famous “S” that scoliosis is known for. I remember not being afraid the morning that I went into the hospital. I knew everything would be all right. I think I was so calm because I couldn’t even imagine the horrible pain that was to follow the surgery. For those of you who have experienced chronic back pain, you probably have an idea.
It took many years to recover. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga regularly, nearly 10 years later, that I began to live a pain-free life. I’m so blessed now to live mostly pain-free to this day. Wanting to maintain this, I decided to book a back massage. I was browsing around the internet, looking for the most beneficial type of massage for those who’ve had the same surgery as me.
To my horror, I ran into dozens of comments about excruciating pain 25-40 years after their surgery. I was stunned. I was never told about possible side effects of my rods as I aged. The people’s posts all said they were fine when they were young, then all of a sudden they started having numbness, shooting pain and other negative symptoms. They all had one thing in common-the realization that there was no cure. There is nothing you can do. Everyone said they were on some type of opiate- daily. Tonight I looked ahead and saw that for my future. And it made me cry.
I’m writing this because those tears brought up memories of two high school classmates of mine. They both died around the age of 20. Their life feels so vivid in my mind, yet they no longer exist. I’ve never really let it go because I always wonder why their life was so short? And, what if I was them? What if there was no tomorrow?
I don’t mean to be depressing, but I think it’s important to think about life this way, at least sometimes. Don’t always live life like you have a tomorrow, or for tomorrow. Do what you want today. I don’t know if I will die tomorrow. I don’t know if most of my adult life will be spent in excruciating pain. What I do know is what I want out of life today. And that’s why I made this bucket list.
So ask yourself… If you were told you would die this month, what are the dreams that you would absolutely see through?
My travel bucket list:
1. Aurora “Northern” Lights
2. Swim with manatees
3. Go on the world’s largest swing in New Zealand
4. Sky dive in New Zealand
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5. Cage dive with Great Whites in Capetown
6. Write a book (not travel related, but equally important!)
7. Star gaze in the Grand Canyon
8. Watch shooting stars in Valencia, Spain
9. Road trip Alaska
10. Eat at an underwater restaurant in the Maldives
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11. Visit a barren desert
12. Release a lantern at the festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand
13. Go on an African Safari
14. See the Pyramids
15. Helicopter ride over Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
16. See the rainbow mountains in China
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17. Visit Yellowstone National Park and see bison
18. Visit Petra in Jordan
19. Hike Macchu Pichu
20. See Everest in a helicopter (we all know I’d die on that hike!)
21. Visit Ta Prohm in Cambodia
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22. Vacation in Fiji in an overwater bungalow (that costs a half a year’s salary)
23. Hike around Patagonia, Chile
26. Float in the Dead Sea in Israel
27. Run through the canyon crevices in Arizona
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28. Kayak around Krabi, Thailand
29. Visit the salt flats in Bolivia
30. Hike to the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
31. Check out incredible fjords in Norway
32. Visit Zhangjiajie National Forest in China
33. Explore Japan (I’m so curious about this country!)
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34. Visit Plitvice Lakes in Croatia in the summer (I went for winter and now I have to see the waterfalls flowing)
35. Illegally climb the stairway to heaven with Tyler in Oahu, Hawaii
Honestly there are many more… but I can’t possibly name them all. Make your own list now before you forget and promise yourself to check at least one big thing off a year. You won’t regret it!