If you want to make a point of moving through life living impacting experiences, you don’t have to visit India during Kumbh Mela or live through an event like the anti-Chinese uprising in Indonesia from 1996 through 1999. Life abounds with ways to see and understand the dynamics of human failures and triumphs. All you have to do is open your eyes.
One short visit to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. will push your mind into silence. It is not a place to go for pro-war or anti-war sentiment. That is not the point. In fact, to make the point in words is wrong. You simply must experience it yourself and walk away from it with feelings you may never have dealt with before. That is an impact that creates growth no matter what your political views.
For the most sobering effect, go in the dead of winter when it’s ten below zero. If you have the choice of time, do it on a clear windy day. You can see the wall in countless photographs in books and magazines. That doesn’t cut it. You have to go. When you arrive, you will be greeted by vets who dedicate part of their lives to helping visitors find the names of friends or relatives. They can tell you the section of the wall to find a given name. Even if you know of no one on the wall, take the paper and pencil they offer and choose a man or woman and make a rubbing of the name. Stay silent. Look at the letters, flowers and personal belonging that have been left by visitors whose sons or daughters are on the wall.
When you walk away, don’t talk. Let it sink in. Each person will have an entirely different mind opening in wordless feelings. Take that with you on the plane when you fly home. When you are being served your little bag of nuts and ginger ale, take the rubbing out and look at it without thought. The result of this experience will last for the rest of your life.