How My Kidney Disease Taught Me To Live Adventurously

June 9, 2022

In society we do not seem to value adventure. It’s seen either as a luxury or something only crazy young people can do, when in fact adventure it is an essential part of a fulfilled life. Bear Grylls once said that adventure is a state of mind, it is whatever makes you feel alive.

Adventure has a transformational power on human nature. You can journey across jungles, up volcanoes and down rivers with a lot to lose but even more to gain from an adventure. You can camp under the stars and learn to surf or climb for the first time—adventure does not have to be in hostile environments or involve breaking records to count.

I left my safe and promising but boring life for a life of adventures but you do not have to do this in order to have a fulfilling experience and a new hobby that makes you feel alive. During my adventures I met others like Anna who used to be a burned-out manager, but through rock climbing, became a brave woman in charge of her life. Tomás grew up in a village and was bullied as a child, so he left in order to start a new life. His adventures on a fishing boat took him around the world. He learned to speak seven languages fluently and now is a successful entrepreneur helping other to find their own adventures. They are all normal people, not adrenalin junkies—but all of them found something meaningful and life changing when they embarked on their first adventure.


Your first adventure doesn’t have to be bungee-jumping off of a bridge or jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet. You can start small, like taking yourself out on a date and visiting a museum alone, or going to the movies alone. You can take a day trip to a nearby city and then next time take it further and go on a solo weekend trip to a place you always dreamed of.

There is something really empowering and something that gives you the feeling of really living when you go on an adventure—or even a life of adventure! For me, getting up every morning not knowing what am I going to experience today, the excitement for whatever is to come, the curiosity for everything that is new and foreign gives such a boost. I am not a fan of strict itineraries or tight travel routes. I really don’t need to know where I will be after tomorrow, I want to be in the present.

I feel blessed for being able to turn my whole life into adventure. I used to go on one kind of adventurous holiday a year, but now I am living adventure every day. It took me years to get to this mindset and hard work and lots of courage and holding onto “my wildness.” I lost many things, relationships, money… but I gained so much. Money comes back and real friends replace the fake ones when you start living authentically. But what will never return is your time.

I was 22 when I got hospitalized with acute kidney failure. Turned out, I inherited a kidney disease from my grandpa who died from the same disease at age 36. (I turn 32 next month, so naturally my mind wanders to this topic more frequently.) I got really lucky or he might be taking care of me from the other wold, but as suddenly as my kidney stopped working, so it suddenly started to work, so I got away from a terrifying surgery—removal of my kidney. Which would not affect me that much, as you can still live with one kidney but still… having 2 is better, isn’t it?

This event in my life taught me one thing: that life is short and can end any time. I could be hit by a car the next minute or my heart could just stop… which is not likely for a 22-year-old but we saw such things happen, especially on the football field. It has been 10 years since my kidney failure but I still remind myself of this every day. My life could end at any moment, what if this is the last? What if this is my last day, my last minute of life—could I die thinking about not eating that brownie because it would make me fat? Hell no… Would I think about wasting my time while sitting in my room on a sunny day, endlessly scrolling through Instagram and not going for a swim in the ocean? Or not going on a 2-hour-long hike to find a hidden waterfall in the mountains? Even though I know I will get tired, sunburned, bitten by insects and cut by sharp leaves—but YEAH! I would totally regret not going on an adventure.

When you’re on an adventure you meet so many people, you hear of hidden places, beaches where you can swim naked in the sea, and stunning trails, of untouched areas that are not mentioned in any guidebooks.

And sometimes you meet very special people when on the road which can even change an existing plan altogether.

Every day I can decide what I want to do today and where I want to wake up tomorrow. This is the ultimate freedom to me!

I used to be a total city fan which is why years ago I moved to Seoul, Korea and even after getting back home, I moved to our capital city Budapest.  I thought Budapest can’t be compared to Seoul in size but both of them are loud and hectic cities full of people and chaos.

Last year I spent two months alone, walking in the mountains of Spain to reach to the ancient pilgrimage center, Santiago de Compostela. At times I didn’t have any people around me, only nature. I slept out in the middle of nowhere or right on a beach by the ocean.

Since then things have started to change. I don’t even like cities so much any more. It is too confining, too stuffy, and loud. Budapest also doesn’t feel  like home anymore. And I don’t even want to start thinking about Seoul, where more people live than in the entire country of Hungary!

I know now that I am happier when I am outdoors, surrounded by nature. When I wake up in my teepee looking at mountains or the sea. When I am not surrounded by dead, cold walls when working at the laptop but get to look out onto a lake or green hills. When I can go for a swim at noon, or simply start work in the afternoon after having gone hiking. When I can decide if today I work on my book, or in the gardens, help in a hostel or do forestry jobs or simply not work that day. When I can go and wash my tired body after work in the lake or sit on a little hill in the evening to watch the sunset. And I love falling asleep to the sound of the waves, to hear the crunch of stones under my feet when I walk, to hear the rustle of leaves in the wind or wake up to the song of birds or the sun rays playing with the shadow on the canvas of my tent. To me there is no better feeling than that!

And it is precisely because of this feeling that I decided to never stop traveling and adventuring because that would mean giving up my freedom and not really living any more.

I know every person is different. We all think differently, feel differently and see the world with different eyes and adventure means different things for all of us. But once in your life, you should stop and ask yourself what drives you to do what you do?

My motivation is the feeling I described above, the seeking for freedom and feeling empowered. I am sure that every one of us has this seeking inside. This longing for new experiences which let you grow beyond yourself, whatever that experience looks like.

Because in the end our only limitations are set by ourselves. Every single day we can redefine our own lives if we allow ourselves to do so. Every time I am outside and plunging head first into a new adventure I remind myself why I do this. And there it is again, this feeling, my very own reason.

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Photo: Luigi Manga via Unsplash

Imola is a Hatha and Ashtanga yoga teacher, tree planter and writer and editor of Raised by the Wolf, an online magazine for Wild Women, with a passion for exploring and life outdoors. Originally from Hungary but currently planting trees and rewilding the enchanting forests of France. Hop over to RBTW magazine, and blog and follow her on Instagram @yogiraisedbythewolf


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