6:30 AM. I roll out of bed and trudge to my bathroom like a lifeless zombie, wishing for just ten more minutes of sleep. After getting ready for school and always seeming to miss breakfast along the way, I arrive for orchestra rehearsal by 7. Then comes my long day of school until 3. I snack and nap until 6 before going to color guard practices or student council commitments at night. After getting home late, doing homework, and studying for a few hours, I quickly fall asleep.
Looking back on my straightforward and fast-paced high school life, I now realize I missed out on so many small, but powerful moments everyday. I was so consumed by the schoolwork that laid ahead of me, worried anxiously about my future self, boggled down in the endless world of social media–that I missed the experience right in front of me–the present moment. One of the most important skills I have learned from Fall Training at Stanford University is the practice of mindfulness, a way to gain greater awareness of moment-to-moment experiences in order to realize the richness and possibilities life has to offer. Instead of allowing life to seize control of me, practicing mindfulness gives me the opportunity to live in the moment, awakening myself to my surroundings. Over the past few days, I have discovered the power of being alone. Simply taking a walk around the grand Stanford campus by myself, I instantaneously become more perceptive of the beautiful nature and amazing people around me. Closing my eyes, breathing, and listening to the sounds around me make the present moment more vivid and thus allow me to better think about what’s happening right then and right there.
As I leave for Ecuador, one of my goals is to simply unplug. I want to avoid spending time worrying about my future or even reminiscing about my past. I want to abstain from social media. I want to banish my fear of missing out with what is going on back home. I want to take fullest advantage of my eight months in Ecuador. I don’t want be anywhere else. I want to live life in the moment. I want to take a step back to think, reflect, and learn.