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A Chiropractic Bucket List
William Morgan,

The Bucket List,” a 2007 movie starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, portrays two strangers who share a hospital room and discover that they have only months to live because of disease. Through a series of events, they become friends and create a list, called a bucket list, of things that they would like to do before they die. Throughout the movie, the two main characters pursue experiences in their fleeting last days, only to learn that the most important things in life are not things.

This movie was a good reminder that the mortality rate for humanity is 100 percent. None of us will be here 100 years from now.

Several years ago, I became very ill and went to a colleague’s office for an evaluation. He is one of the world’s most renowned internal medicine physicians. After a battery of tests and examinations, he told me, “These tests look like those of a patient with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I need you to get some additional tests done.”

He kept talking, but my thoughts jumped to my family and what I had left undone in life: I still needed to teach my daughter to ride her bicycle, I needed to tell my son about the facts of life, and I needed to provide more of a subsistence for my wife. My late father had lymphoma, and I knew what the future held for me.

That next week dragged on forever, and further testing found that I did not have cancer. I had a new lease on life. For the next several weeks and months, I worked hard to mend relationships and to be a better father and husband and a more compassionate doctor. But as time passed, I found myself sliding back into complacency and mediocrity. I had to periodically jolt myself from my complacency and challenge myself to greater things: to love more, to give more, to touch more and to seek God more.

Are You Living to the Fullest?

I would challenge you to examine your existence and the direction of your life. Then ask yourself, “If I knew that I had only one year to live, how would I change my behavior?” If you can honestly say that you would not change a thing, then you are already living life to its fullest. But if you have regrets and remorse, thenI would challenge you to change the way that you are living. Seek greater depth in your relationships, work on deepening the integrity of your character and pour yourself into the service of your patients. You may even create your own bucket list.

While I would not impose on your personal list, I would venture a couple of recommendations for a professional bucket list:

• Go on a benevolent chiropractic mission at home or abroad.

• Mentor a younger doctor.

• Publish in a peer-reviewed journal (this is harder than you think).

• Give hope to a patient who has no hope.

• Pray with a patient for whom you have nothing else to offer but a prayer.

• Cry with a patient.

• Visit an ill patient in the hospital.

• Help someone who can do nothing for you in return.

• Attend the National Chiropractic Legislative Conference in Washington, D. C.

• Raise money for a capital campaign that benefits your alma mater.

• Make peace with an adversary.

Your bucket list should not become just another to-do list. It should be a heartfelt portrait of your professional life—your life as you intended to live it.