This past year for me has been full of major changes that have drastically impacted the way I look at the world and my place in it. These changes, although negative on first glance, have had a positive impact on the way life is viewed though my eyes.
I was diagnosed with Stage 4A Head and neck cancer back in September of 2016 and at the same time while I battled this horrible disease there were battles in my personal life that also took hold. My marriage was strained and in the end my wife felt that she was better off without me.
You want to talk about a huge eye opener. There is nothing like a life changing event to make you think differently about what you are doing in life and what your values and goals are. In previous columns you may have read a bit about my battle with cancer, but what never really was talked about was what actually came out of this horrible disease.
Many hours were spent sitting at my desk at the office or sitting in my “cancer chair” at the house watching TV. I sat there just trying to accomplish the smallest of tasks. Feeding myself though a feeding tube or just trying to get rid of the nausea caused by the chemo treatments. The one thing that kept me going was thinking about hunting and fishing when I kicked this horrible disease.
Well, I kicked it and I can stand with my head up high and say cancer did not beat me, I beat cancer! That down time allowed me to think about all that I have missed out on or that needed to be accomplished in my life. A proverbial “bucket list” was created in the back of my mind and I knew that life would not be complete if I didn’t at least try to fulfil a few of these items regardless of the illness and life situation.
We all have things in our life we want to do and these tend to take a back seat to our everyday life. This really shouldn’t be the case as you only have one life and you really need to make the most of it. Get out there and do the things that you keep saying that you are going to do.
Many people have a bucket list, but do you have a dedicated list that revolves around the outdoors? I know I do and I certainly hope to accomplish many of the items on this list before life takes another turn that will not allow me to successfully enjoy these things.
Bucket lists can be pages upon pages of items and there is nothing wrong with that. However, there is a saying “aim small, miss small”. Basically if you keep your list to a strong minimum then you are more likely to accomplish these items and you can always add more on to keep the list going as you cross an item off.
Have you thought of a bucket list already?
I know I have! Sharing the entire list here would possibly put some to sleep, however I felt that I needed to share an example of what I am looking forward to in my life that I can cross off as they are accomplished.
These are in no particular order but I think you get the idea.
• Sit in a deer stand with my son and watch him take his first whitetail
• Catch a tarpon on stand-up tackle
• Elk hunt in traditional horseback and canvas wall tents.
• Fish for giant Redfish in the flats and marshes of the gulf
• Catch a splake in full colors.
• Fish the east coast for Strippers from boat or shore.
• Land a Largemouth over 10lbs and a smallmouth over 6lbs
• Watch my Son catch his first king salmon.
• Shoot a whitetail worthy of a shoulder mount for the wall.
• Make my name be recognizable by the big name people in the outdoor industry.
• Alligator hunt in Florida
Some of these items may not seem important to you, but they are some of the top items on my list of things to do before I leave this earth. They are not materialistic as much as they are satisfying my inner child and outdoorsman.
The bucket list is a way of pushing myself to stop making excuses and just get out there and do these things. They are not unobtainable. They are all well within my reach as an outdoorsman.
Money plays a huge roll in obtaining these items and with the mounting hospital bills from my illness it can seem like a daunting task. However, I refuse to let anything stop me. This list will grow and grow, however as it grows there will be items that I will be able to check off with a proud smile on my face.
If you don’t have a list then take some time to think about it. Think about the things that you want to do before you are covered by 6 feet of dirt. Don’t let others tell you that you cannot accomplish these things. Only you can make these items come true and by living life “one day at a time” you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
Bucket lists are not just for the old or sick. These lists are for all of us and should be a priority that we keep in our minds so that we don’t forget just how precious life can be. Create your own list and please feel free to share it with me. I would certainly love to know what others are wanting to accomplish in their lives.