How do we make a connection? How do we know and understand it as genuine? Is a connection something that we choose or is it something that chooses us? I have been thinking a lot about connection during this trip. This learning experience has allowed me to more deeply experience and examine all the different connections that are created and maintained in a moment and in a lifetime. My time in Thailand has been filled with connection to many different people. Some people I have felt the strongest connections with are the Thai students and our tour guides.
When I look back at my time with the Thai students, three college students just starting their second day interning at a school on the Mekong River, it amazes me to think of where our relationship began to what it developed into. I can still remember our first day on the boat with them, having strong feelings of wanting to get to know them. I would smile, and now looking back, this smile was part of the first connection we made together. The last night together was happy and full of writing notes to one another and a few tears were shed. The first day on the boat, Claire and I talked with Aek, transculturally interacting, sharing our languages and knowledge. There were lots of miscommunications, but it was light hearted and I could feel the thirst for knowledge and connection. After that first initial interaction, I think that a barrier was broken, and thus we began to become more comfortable with one another. Often times in relationships when you connect, there is this metaphorical bump you have to overcome. I view it as something you overcome together to understand that you both agree to connection. A difficulty in this connection was language abilities. There were often many miscommunications or loss of communication because of our inability to talk one another’s language. I don’t think this hindered our connections, in a way it made it a more unique connection. As Yer, one of my fellow students on the trip, would sometimes translate for me, the Thai students kept saying how they had never felt such a strong connection before. It warmed my heart to hear that because I know that I felt the same way. I think that connection feeds off of one another. It’s give and take. If I feed into the connection, then the other party responds with more connection and there is a common growth.
Another strong connection I made on this trip was with our tour guide Eve. It’s hard to explain how or why we connected. Sometimes I think there is a lack of words and feelings to describe these sensations. It just happens sometimes and there isn’t a need to explain it.
In my life I have had some difficulties truly connecting with people on a deeper level. I think I am afraid of what happens when it ends that I have a hard time focusing on the present. Relating back to my previous post about expectations and reality, I believe that attachment and connection go hand in hand. When you make a connection with someone there is some sort of attachment occurring. What I have a more difficult time understanding is when you connect strongly with a person or a place, how can you say goodbye without suffering? Or is suffering an initial part of the process? I was talking with Acharn Cathy about connection and a point she brought up was that reconnection could happen. This was an idea I had not yet thought of. She stated that it might not necessarily mean you see them again but you will always remember the moments you had together. I have a hard time with goodbyes. I get overwhelmed in my emotions (and cry a lot). It is hard for me to not think about the future and how this will never happen in the same way again. I don’t want to lose the connection that was so strongly made in the moment. I think I have this fear of letting go of something good because it will not be the same in the future. I do not think that this means that the connection is lost though. I think you carry these feelings with you for the rest of your life. Connection is an essential part of being human. We crave it, we thrive it and grow through it. I believe that connecting with someone is one of the most rewarding ways to learn. My experience in Thailand has been one that will never be forgotten. Some connections may fade away with memories and daily life, but this moment right now will never be forgotten.