Years ago, I read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. It was the historical account of Christopher McCandless, a young man who graduated to great promise from Emory University in the early 1990s only to abandon any semblance of identity (he literally burned all forms of identification) and left his home and family behind to hit the road on a cross-country trip. Chris ultimately ended up living out of an abandoned bus through a snowy Alaskan winter north of Denali National Park and, while incredibly resourceful, he ended up making one tactical mistake–he ate poisonous berries–and ended up perishing shortly before the spring thaw. His journey, both physically and psychologically, was introspective and meditative.
Years ago, I joined the Peace Corps, a U.S.-government-funded volunteer organization that sends willing Americans overseas to participate in grassroots projects with the citizens of countries around the world. Some volunteers do community development, others lead health or sustainable agriculture projects. I ended up teaching English as a foreign language in Sri Lanka. I was supposed to live and teach there for two years but the country was in the middle of a civil war at the time, and my assignment ended up being cut in half.