We have opportunities for life changing moments all the time.
I had several during my three weeks in India and Nepal. But the one that resonates the most is the night we sat in a boat on the Ganges River.
We went to Varanasi. It was our final city before we would cross the border to Nepal. We arrived in the afternoon, took a few hours to relax, and then hopped in tuk tuks to get over to the river at sunset.
(The sun doesn’t actually set on the Ganges, since you’re facing east, not west. But the dusk is lovely.)
We sat on the steps at the side of the river, watching men take Holy Dips. A few hundred yards down, a crematorium was in full operation, sending the souls of recently departed back to heaven. After a few minutes of watching muted bustling, we boarded a small boat and went out onto the slow moving water.
Our guide, Abhi, had spent a lot of time over the past five or six days teaching us about the beliefs of the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and more. He is a devout Hindu, but any time he would talk about other religions, he always said, “We.” Things like, “we believe.” He was never condescending or judgmental about any other religion. It was inspiring.
We soaked in the beauty of the scene, listening intently as Abhi talked about his faith and expressing his belief in God. And then we participated in a ceremony involving butter lamps. Essentially, you light a small lamp made out of butter and flowers. In silent meditation, you ponder on something you want for your life. Some would call it a wish. Others would refer to it as prayer. And then we placed the lamps on the water and let them go.
We remained on the water for awhile. The driver took us up and down the shore a bit and we watched the comings and goings. After some time, we found ourselves in the midst of hundreds of small boats, all full of worshipers. One of the Hindu temples was performing a ceremony that they perform every single night. It is to thank God for the day and to ask for protection throughout the night.
After the ceremony, we went back to the hotel and off to bed.
Kelli and I sat in our room that night and talked about what we had just witnessed.
She said, “That was a life changing experience.”
I said, “I hope it was.”
This led into our discussion about change and what that really means. And we agreed that we have potentially life changing experiences all the time.
I’ve said a million times, “This was life changing!”
And sometimes that turned out to be true.
But usually? Not so much.
Because I don’t actually DO anything different. I just settle back into my regular life and eventually everything goes right back to how it was before.
I really hope this experience changed my life. But that is up to me. I need to remember the feelings I felt sitting there on the Ganges. To remind myself of how that affected me. And to actually do something about it.