October 18, 2008- the Random Bucket List Picker debuts. My divorce is final, I’m sitting on my new couch in my new apartment in my new life, holding my purple bucket list notebook and summoning my courage. I’ve been postponing this moment for a few days- partly because I enjoy the delicious anticipation and partly because I’m nervous as hell. I’ve been collecting daydreams for 13 years at this point, and there are some pretty outlandish adventures on my list. I have promised myself I’m not going to chicken out, though. Whichever number is randomly chosen is the first solo adventure I’m going to take, no matter what. And the winner is…
#279- Travel the Road to Mandalay
I vaguely remembered adding this entry to the list after reading a collection of Rudyard Kipling poems in school. Palm trees, temple bells, lazy seas… well, maybe this won’t be so bad. You may already realize how little I knew about the country whose place I wasn’t entirely sure how to find on a map. I don’t speak the language. What am I going to eat? Wait, is it Burma or Myanmar? By the time I boarded the Singapore Airlines flight to Yangon five months later, I was well versed in the horrors of the military junta, widespread poverty, government censorship, and the house arrest of the democratic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. Everyone I knew was convinced I was going to meet an untimely death or similarly horrific fate and never make it home. Inwardly, I wasn’t 100% sure they were wrong.
Spoiler alert: I survived. I gained intimate knowledge of a part of the world I had only ever dreamed about, and not all of it was pretty. I gained intimate knowledge about myself, and not all of that was pretty, either. I decided letting a random algorithm choose my adventures was the best possible way to put myself wherever the universe thought I needed to be at that time. I didn’t come home the same person I was when I left, and I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything.