Bear Grylls was raised on the Isle of Wight and taught at a young age by his father how to sail and climb. He later went on to study at Eton College, where he started the first mountaineering club, and at the University of London. At the age of 19, Bear joined the British Army and served in the 21st Regiment Special Air Service for three years until he suffered an accident while parachuting in Zambia. He free-fell from 16,000 feet after his canopy ripped and landed on his back, crushing three vertebrae. Bear had come terribly close to becoming paralyzed, but miraculously he was able to recover. After only 18 months of rehabilitation, Bear Grylls went on to gain the title of the youngest Briton at that point to climb Mount Everest. From then on, he continued to take part in daring adventures across the world. A few that really stood out to me were: in 2000, Bear raised money for a friend who lost his legs in a climbing accident by rowing naked in a homemade bathtub 22 miles along the Thames; he and a team of friends created a world record for having a formal open-air dinner party at the highest altitude in history, 7,600 feet in the sky in a giant hot air balloon; Bear lead a mission to climb one of the remote peaks in Antartica, which was cut short when he broke his shoulder while kite-skiing across the ice. On top of all of these adventures, Grylls has started a family (three sons named Jesse, Marmaduke, and Huckleberry), hosted a top-rated TV show, and written children's books. From these few highlights, it's not hard to be incredibly impressed by the life he has lived already.
Upon reading about his endeavors, achievements, and adventures I was awe-struck by how Bear Grylls has lived such an epic life and he's only 38. It brought things to a head for me and drew life into perspective. As I sat there in wonder, I realized I too want to live an epic life. I too want to go on adventures, live a life well spent, have my grandchildren talk about me in remembrance and say "wasn't she a bad ass?" I knew from that point that I just couldn't be one of those mindless drones who sits in their cubicle who hates their job and wishes for change, but never ends up going anywhere. That moment spurred me to create my own "living the epic life" to-do list. Here are some of my top to-do's so far:
1. Learn to play the banjo
2. Work with a charity to help save polar bears
3. Visit India
4. Hike the Appalachian Trail
5. Go to New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week
6. Adopt an orphaned elephant and visit it in its habitat in Africa
7. Write a book
8. Maintain a close relationship with friends and family
9. Keep expanding my knowledge and having an open mind
Now, I challenge you to take a few minutes to reflect on your life. Think about what kind of person you want to be, what legacy you want to leave behind. We are only given this one life on earth and we must make it the greatest adventure.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain