Learning to Disconnect

I am learning to balance connection and disconnection. In the last week here at Stanford, I have heard hundreds of names and become familiar with dozens of faces. I have been met with people who are passionate, enthusiastic and inspired by the same things that I am. Simultaneous to all of this new connection, I’ve been saying goodbye. I said goodbye to both the people and the place that I love for an entire eight months. While there is something magical about hellos, goodbyes always take a part of me with them. I like to think that there are pieces of my heart with each person I’ve had to say goodbye to. After a goodbye, I find myself at a place of transition. Before I left for my year abroad in Belgium, a mentor told me, “You can’t live in two places at once”. It would take many failures and moments heartache to find the truth in this phrase. I’ve found that the only way to truly love and learn from the place you’re in is to be there 100%. The life changing moments we search for in leaving home can’t be attained when your mind, heart or focus is anywhere other that exactly where you are. In the past few days, I feel like half of myself is still at home with the people I said goodbye to. It can be hard to make room in your heart when half of it still feels like it’s gone, but I’m learning to make it big enough to fit both.


I leave for Brazil at 6am tomorrow morning. Today has been a flurry of packing, goodbyes and organization. I feel like I am doused in syrup. I can’t tell if it is because of the 108 degree heat wave that has settled on Stanford this afternoon, or if my limbs and thoughts are moving slower because something at home is holding me back. Since I woke up this morning, there has been a poem in my head that encourages me to move forward. The Journey by Mary Oliver was first shared with me in elementary school by one of my greatest life mentors, and after not hearing it for years, I find that I can’t get it out of my head today.


The Journey
Mary Oliver
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do –
determined to save
the only life you could save.