Ryan knew his life had changed while he was laying on his stomach in China, while a 5-foot Chinese woman was lighting fishbowls on fire and placing them on his back.
If you Live Your List you are taking control of your destiny. You are living an inspired life full of adventure and intrigue as a life-long learner.
The Live Your List philosophy includes Bucket Lists, ACT Goals, and defining your purpose. It’s about dreams, both great and small. It is a mindset. It is a way of life.
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I first knew my life was starting to change while lying on my stomach in China. A five-foot tall woman was lighting fishbowls on fire before placing them on my back. I wasn’t sure if I was being tortured, but I knew I had officially been following my dream to Live My List.
I spoke zero Mandarin, and this lady spoke very little English. We had wandered our way into the massage parlor without knowing that you had to be extremely careful when choosing a parlor. Apparently massage parlor means something completely different in China than it does in the United States. Unless that is how you think of massage parlors. Then it means exactly the same thing.
However, we chose wisely and ended up in a salon that offered two-hour long massages, and each person had two massage therapists. We were asked to dress up in thick velvet robes and plush slippers before we hopped into a co-ed sauna. It was strange to be in a steamy room with ten older Chinese people, but not nearly as strange for us as it was for them.
You would have thought we were aliens. I had to stoop down to enter the door, and my 6 foot-2, 200-pound frame took almost an entire bench. The Chinese sat three people on a bench. The large American sat one. They had stripped their robes and were wearing the see-through underwear that the salon provided. We were still modestly in our robes.
We saw many odd things in China. We were in Zhengzhou, an industrial city with very little tourism. We said that there were two parts of China – tourist China and real China. Real China had small animals hanging in the side street markets. The toddlers didn’t wear diapers, instead they wore pants that had slits in the crotch so they could go to the bathroom wherever they wanted. There were random chickens that would walk around in the middle of a city of ten million.
Of all of the odd things we saw in China, the see-through underwear was the oddest. It was unusually small and completely see-through. They served no purpose other than to make the American visitors feel completely uncomfortable.
After a few minutes of awkwardness, the sauna steam enveloped us and provided a screen of relaxation amongst the group. When our sauna time was finished, the massage therapists led us into a candlelit room playing relaxing music that sounded like there was a bubbling stream running through the middle of the massage tables.
The next two hours were amazing. One masseuse focused on massaging my feet while the other massaged my upper body. I had no idea how these little women could apply so much force into my back. It felt like a jackhammer knocking away at my sore spots. I’m pretty sure they could have helped fix roads with those hands. I was beat up, but completely relaxed at the same time.
After the massage, my masseuse asked me something in very broken English. I was almost asleep at this point, so I had to focus to understand what she was saying.
“You want Chinese cupping?”
“Remove negative Chi. Very good for you.”
I didn’t know what she was talking about, but if she said it was good for me, I was going to do it. I think this lady could have punched me in the face and took all of my money and I would have been thankful. She could have even convinced me to buy some see-through underwear.
I agreed to let her try the Chinese cupping on me without even knowing what she was going to do. We might have accidentally stumbled into one of the sketchy Chinese massage parlors we had been warned about, but it was too late to back out now. If I could have been in a state of mind to be worried, I would have been sweating bullets.
I was still dazed as she rolled out a cart that held about 30 fishbowls and strangely, a torch! A torch? What was that for? Did she need more light? Was there a journey involved during this massage? Did she plan on entering a tunnel to drink water out of the Holy Grail? Either way I was nervous.
She took a smelly oil and rubbed it all over my back. Alright, now I get it. She is going to light my back on fire. This is the end for me. This was a trap for tourists. The Chinese were smart, they wanted to lure you into ultimate relaxation before they burned you to a crisp. They made you so relaxed that you couldn’t even fight back when they started to baste you like a turkey.
As I was crying for help, she took the torch and stuck in on the inside of one of the fishbowls on the cart. She lowered the torch and fishbowl near my back, removed the torch, and then stuck the bowl right on my shoulder. The fire had sucked all of the oxygen out of the bowl making it a strong suction cup.
The fishbowl that sat on my shoulder started to suck my flesh further and further inside of the glass. It hurt. Not a small amount of hurt, but a large amount of hurt. Imagine someone pulling the skin on your shoulder into a ring and then pulling it constantly through the ring. That’s what I felt like. I am not going to lie to you fine folks, I cried.
It wasn’t sobbing crying, but tough man crying. You know, when a guy bites his lower lip as a single tear rolls down his cheek, dropping onto the floor like a dramatic drop of rain. Before the tear could even hit the ground, the masseuse set another fishbowl on my back. This time on my lower back.
If you thought shoulder skin seeping into a hot fishbowl was painful, you clearly haven’t had one placed on your lower back. This Chinese torturer was just getting started. Within five minutes, she had placed 30 fishbowls of pain all over my back.
I mean, who else had ever experienced this form of slow torture? I was out of my comfort zone to say the least, but I felt alive. I felt strong. I felt like I was living life to the fullest. I had started to Live My List.
How Did I Get Here
If you Live Your List you are taking control of your destiny. You are living an inspired life full of adventure and intrigue as a life-long learner. The Live Your List philosophy includes Bucket Lists, ACT Goals, and defining your purpose. It’s about dreams, both great and small. It is a mindset. It is a way of life.
It is more than getting set on fire in China, but it was as if the heat searing into my back had lit a fire of understanding about my life. I had been on a journey of self-discovery for many years.
It was then, however, that I started to wonder how I had gotten myself into this position. What decision had I made that led me to being lit on fire in China? I have heard that people’s lives flash before their eyes right before they die. I wasn’t sure if this was one of those moments, but I started to review my life nonetheless.