OPINIONS

Dive for Dreams

I liked the way the words felt as they rolled over my tongue and hung idly in the back of my mind. But they never really sunk in until today: “Dive for dreams or a slogan may topple you (trees are their roots and wind is wind).”

They are the opening lines of a poem by e.e. cummings; a poem my little sister featured atop her high school graduation cap last spring. It read:

“Trust your heart

if the seas catch fire,

(and live by love

though the stars walk backward)”

In the last year, these words have become my every ambition. “Trees are their roots,” he wrote, communicating so much profundity with so few words. When we dive for dreams, we must remember to jump from a position of strength, rather than grasping at what lies just beyond our fingertips.

It’s a lesson we’ve learned (and relearned) a million times over. Master the basics before you attempt the dunk, wind up for a bicycle kick, or hang ten. Push up from your legs; don’t pull with your arms. Build the foundation before you try the trick or else you might get embarrassed, or worse, hurt.

The hard part about learning the lesson is that we often don’t realize how good we’ve gotten until we attempt the trick. And a lifetime of pushups seems pointless with nothing to show our friends.

For me, it was a lifetime bopping around a five-mile radius in Palo Alto. I had never been away from the comforts of home for more than a few days at a time. When my friends flew across the country for college, I moved across the street. I didn’t learn that “trees are their roots” until I studied abroad in South Africa as a sophomore.

At the Cape Town airport, I sat on top of my duffel next to a boy and a girl with familiar faces and last names I couldn’t remember. I wished more than anything to leap back from continent to continent safely home, to the side of my bed that was still warm when I left in the dark.

But as we drove away from the airport, headed for our new home in Cape Town, I felt grateful for the 18 years that had prepared me for this new adventure. For the time I visited a teen sex ed workshop in Mexico City (with my mom when I was 9) and the HIV/AIDS clinic in Ethiopia. For the conversations my family had growing up about what it meant to be bi-racial. I might have been the youngest one in the South Africa program, but I was as ready as anyone.

Graduation is our next hurdle. Many of us feel like we want more time or we don’t deserve the diploma. Thoughts of what ifs and if onlys haunt us into our final days (thank god for March 14). I too, am nothing short of terrified to wake up on Monday, June 16th.

But that morning will come, and in my heart of hearts, I know we will be ready.

For four years, Stanford has been our playground. An arena of tools at our disposal—books, machines, money, Nobel Prize winners and probably the best dating pool we will every know. Stanford gave us a platform to express ourselves freely—to speak up, to sing out, to listen. To invite our heroes for a visit with the Stanford name behind us. Think about the number of emails you’ve started with “my name is X and I’m a Stanford student” and where they have led you.

Sitting in a Paris café over spring break, I overheard an American businessman sell a job to a French engineer. “If you visit one place in the Silicon Valley, you have to go to Stanford. What’s special about Stanford is that once you’re in, they nurture you, give you grants and push you to succeed—there’s very little you can do to f*** it up. And what results is the most impressive student body I’ve ever seen.”

He was right and we are lucky. At Stanford, we can dance or laugh or cry or nap at any hour of any day. We have stretched ourselves past the limits we thought we knew, and have grown stronger and more resilient. We have enrolled in way too many units because we just have to take “Sex, Rock, and Rebellion,” and taken on too many student groups because the communities are too special to pass up. That Introductory Seminar helped us to know ourselves better in relation to the wider world. Those Tuesday night formals, Wednesday night Happy Hours and Thursday Senior Nights taught us time management. The conversations whispered between two twin XL mattresses taught us to connect.

These memories are not behind us, but are a part of us now. They are the roots that will determine our success when the wind blows. We are more than prepared to challenge politicians and give advice to Fortune 500 CEOs and direct millions of dollars at leading NGOs. We just don’t realize it yet.

Maybe you don’t believe me and maybe we won’t believe in ourselves until tomorrow comes. But dive for dreams, trust your heart, the poem tells us. “Honor the past but welcome the future.”

As I prepare to graduate, I sit back into these words a little more. I pull them over and around me. Because they tell me to be more kind and less afraid. Let them empower you to follow opportunity and take the plunge.

You’ve spent four years building the foundation. Now it’s time to try the trick.

Hana Kajimura ’14

Contact Hana Kajimura at hanask11@stanford.edu.