ManyLivesManyWorldsI must have been a strange kid. Barefooted, patched jeans, growing up in three-room tin-roofed shacks in the woods. I was about six or seven years old when I informed my mother that I wasn’t going to live just one life. I was going to live many lives and travel all over the world. Just like my heroes did in the adventure books I read.

I’ve done just that. During just my 74th year on God’s wonderful earth, I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak in Africa; raced a bicycle 500 miles; parachuted out of airplanes as a member of the WWII Parachute Demonstration Team; won a Silver Medal in downhill slalom ski races in Colorado. . .

And then—cancer. And surgery that has put me on the sidelines for over two years. For a man of action and adventure, that is tantamount to a death sentence.

My wife Donna Sue is a good and wise woman. “You’ve done things in your life the vast majority of people in the world has never done and never will,” she scolded. “Don’t dwell on what you could do. Think about what you have done.”

When my Mom first accepted that I was, well, different, she began keeping scrapbooks of my adventures and my careers as published author; U.S. Navy journalist; U.S. Army Green Beret; cop; combat correspondent; dinner theater actor; pilot; rodeo cowboy and rodeo clown; archaeologist. . . So far, I have ten scrapbooks, thick with photos, news clippings, and other memorabilia going all the way back to my birth in 1942—and then, thanks to relatives and Ancestry.com, one book back to 1640.

Donna Sue is right. When things get too bad and I start dreaming of canoeing the Congo River, of searching for ruins in Central America, of trekking Antarctica—adventures I can’t do again until I heal—I take out my scrapbooks, and through them my life unfolds.

God has indeed been good to me. Allowed me to see and experience so much of this glorious world He created for us.

During my life, I’ve ridden Arabian horses to the Pyramids; encountered African elephants in the wild; raced camels across the Sinai; had lunch with peasants in Vietnam; kayaked the Inside Passage up the Pacific Coast; set a world’s flight record as pilot of an ultralight aircraft; canoed across the Yukon Territory; rode horses through Alaska; dived for pirate treasure in the Caribbean; ran with the bulls in Spain; was bitten by a piranha on the Amazon River; explored Mayan ruins in the jungles; parachuted onto the Korean DMZ; won kickboxing fights; backpacked into some of the most remote regions on earth; hopped freight trains as a hobo; survived combat firefights; motorcycled Europe; traveled Israel; explored the Florida Everglades by canoe; solved murder cases as a police homicide detective; lived on a tiny sailboat in the Caribbean; trekked the Sahara Desert; dog-sledded the Arctic; published over 60 books; seen my sons and grandsons grow up…

I have indeed lived many lives and beheld many wonders, not the least of which are sunrises and sunsets all around the globe. I asked God in prayer that if I make it to Heaven, will He let me explore the universe and have adventures for the rest of eternity…

Charles W. Sasser is author of over 60 books, many of which are available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and at numerous bookstores.