Jet lag, train rides, crickets, the sensory overload of Old Delhi and the serenity of the Golden Temple, the Taj Palace hotel and the YWCA. One day, car horns, the smiling faces at the Ashram, the pulsing masses at aarti and elderly Tibetans mumbling prayers as they walked the streets, the smells of burning trash and Indian food, small group discussions, excitement, confusion, contrast, challenge, connection, inspiration, the Dalai Lama¹s infectious laugh, and Krishna’s grinning face as he frantically scrambled over our suitcases to escape the moving train. Just a few outstanding memories from the two weeks I spent in India; a brief peek into a country so vast and varied that no one could possibly comprehend it.
We skimmed the surface of thousands of years of history, adding in our own small way to the infinitely complex web of experience and memory that defines India today. If there is one thing I took away from India, it is a sense of deepened wonder and curiosity about the world I live in. The spirit of wanderlust, drugged into sleep by the comforts and petty worries of everyday life was once again awakened within me. Like Rama, in the ancient Hindu epic, Ramayana, discovering his true destiny when faced by the terror of the demon army, an encounter with the intensity, diversity and (barely) controlled chaos of India has reminded me of my duty to myself to experience as much of the world as I can, because in the end, genuine experience is all that really matters.
The day after I returned, I saw a marathon runner with the words DIE LIVING tattooed across his chest. Everyday, when he looks in the mirror, he is reminded of his commitment to truly experiencing the world, even if it kills him. When I was in Guatemala, a fellow traveler said that he could never truly know himself unless he subjected himself to every possible situation, and by traveling, he meant to come as close to this as he could.
The reason ethics cannot be truly taught in a classroom is because school does not provide the diversity of experience necessary to form them and test them simultaneously. The best we can do in school is to build a rudimentary framework of ideas to help us process what we see once we leave.
I also realized that in terms of the Learning Journey, everything I have yet experienced is still part of the first phase, the Call. All the small journeys so far have really only awakened my interest and helped me to keep moving on, if each such experience continues to inspire me, I wonder if I will actually ever reach the Journey stage. I hope that I, too, can die living.