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Poor prognosis encouraged wellness coach to follow a dream

July 2012

Come with me to meet 63-year-old Brian Korson, who, two years ago, was advised by his heart surgeon “to get his affairs in order.” Brian lived to tell a different story—of tenacity and perseverance—a story he wanted to tell after climbing the Great Wall of China.

“Two years ago, I was overweight and had been dealing with high blood pressure and high cholesterol for 20 years.

“Then a mittral valve in my heart—it’s a little valve that regulates fresh blood to the body—tore,” said the video producer and wellness coach. “I experienced a sensation like I was drowning. I couldn’t catch my breath. It was really scary.

“After seeing my doctor, it really hit me for the first time that I was mortal.”

The operation was a success, but for weeks, Brian couldn’t even open a door, couldn’t lift anything and was traumatized just walking up a flight of stairs.

His 15-year-long study of the Kabala already identified his life’s prerequisite to help people, but this life and death encounter gave him “a lot of time to think and review my purpose in this life.”

“I realized that you’ve got to live in the moment, you can’t keep putting things off ... you’ve got to take on new challenges or accept a slow death. I realized you’ve got to move forward in order to have the roller-coaster ride of your life.”

Brian Korson faced mortality, describing it as drowning. He healed his heart and began setting goals. Photo courtesy of Brian Korson

For Brian, travelling was part of that awareness and although he didn’t know it during rehab, China was just a stroll around the corner.

“First, I started to rebuild.”

He doggedly endured the painful and arduous process of cardio-rehab. Six months later, after a change in diet and a regular fitness routine, Brian was well on his way to his next challenge.

“Now, I feel you can’t put off what you want to do. You’ve got to live in the moment and take care of your ‘bucket list.’ An opportunity arose when an old Chinese friend called me up to come with him and few other acquaintances on a Chinese-government-sponsored tour.”

And here, folks, is where the travel angle to this column gets interesting.

“All we had to pay for was the return airfare to Beijing and then Beijing to Shanghai return. The government paid for accommodations and food for 11 days.”

Hard to believe? After all, accommodations and food consume a big slice of a traveler’s overhead.

Brian explained that his tour is a standard Chinese travel program for Canadian and U.S. citizens.

There are a variety of destinations within the country that are available from travel agencies specializing in the Orient.

Brian said the basic trip costs about $1,400; not included are such items as tips or theatre tickets. He spent an additional $400 or $500.

So where’s the catch? You don’t have to be a cynic to believe that governments don’t give things away unless they have an ulterior motive. So, in this big-bucks promotion, the government weaves a number of “factory” visits into the tour, manufacturers specializing in everything from silks, to jewelry, pearls, tea and lots more.

“It’s really their industry that sponsors your trip, I think, but it was all good stuff to see,” Brian said. “I spent a lot more than I thought at the factories and I was surprised as to how much I brought home.”

To hear Brian explain it, he brought home a lot more from his travel experience than trinkets.

He was able to prove to himself that he could walk up an irregular 50-foot-high stair-route and then continue along a lopsided, stony walkway to meet a “spur” every two kilometres.

Brian Korson conquered the Great Wall of China.

“I even arrived at the top before my group.

“Then I gave one of those ‘Rocky’ victory dances—you know where he throws his hands into the air and jumps up and down. My friends were blown away and I felt phenomenal. I felt I achieved an important goal in my life.

“That’s what travelling is all about,” Brian said. “Making your challenges happen.”



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