A Most Contemplative Visit to D.C.

A stroll through the capital.


Traveling does funny things to one’s state of mind. There’s something mystifying and oddly profound about stepping out of the daily grind and into a new place. More often than not, I feel as though each new place I visit adds a rich layer of perspective to my overall view of the world, and of life.

I had the good fortune of infusing a little bit of that disruption into my daily grind on a recent trip back east this weekend. After visiting Virginia for my cousin’s wedding, I took a mini detour to stop in Washington, D.C., before hopping on my flight back to California. And after just a few hours in the city, I quickly realized that what I’d be taking away from my brief time there would be much more than just a few glimpses of national monuments.

To be completely honest, I didn’t expect to feel any strong sense of connection to D.C. My preconceived notion of the capital was that the District was a place for the politically inclined; as someone who has always shied away from that sphere, I expected to be a mere passerby who was just passing through to sight-see.

My expectations could not have been more wrong.

The second I set foot in the National Mall, I was overcome by a strange feeling. I’d seen pictures of this place on T.V., in magazines, on the Internet… but no one could have prepared me for the overwhelming sense of conviction, purpose, and strength I felt there.

This got me thinking about the concept of greatness. We hear the term “great” a lot these days, especially in reference to the state of our country; but what does it really mean? How is greatness fostered? Is it by a number of bold, sweeping power strides we make in comparison to others; or is it by a culmination of small, humble gestures that push us towards a collective, greater good? Am I capable of achieving greatness, and is that what I want? How would I want to be remembered when I’m gone?

What legacy will I leave after I’m gone?

I walked along the Reflecting Pool as I contemplated these questions. I stepped up to the Lincoln Memorial and gazed solemnly at the words our sixteenth President so profoundly spoke in the name of equality during one of our nation’s darkest times. I stood behind the spot where Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke of his dream to see this nation “rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed.” I stood there, looking out beyond the crowds of tourists flocking to see the same incredible sights I was seeing, thinking: what kind of mark will I leave in this world?

Truth be told, I didn’t leave D.C. with the answer to that question. I didn’t have a distinct “lightbulb” moment revealing my calling in life and I still don’t know what impact I’ll have on this world after I’m gone. But what I did leave D.C. with was a greater sense of conviction to continually work on bringing light to the world in all that I do.

And I won’t stop fighting to perpetuate that.




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