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(Disclaimer–this post will probably not make much sense if you haven’t read my previous post. Or perhaps not even then.)

Many things have changed. I’ve seen piggly wigglies grow. I’ve seen piggly wigglies die. I’ve seen piggly wigglies sold.

Since my last post, I’ve now seen some full life cycles of things on the farm. The passing of the piglets. The continuing cycle of the planting, harvesting, preparation, and consumption of kalo (taro). I’ve seen myself grow into more of a self-sufficient and valuable worker at Waipa. I’ve seen myself fatten up as Waipa continues to force-feed me delicious food.

And as I feel almost–if not entirely– central to the Duke experience, I’ve seen myself make great friendships among people who will more than likely not be in my physical presence for the rest of my life after this program. All the great people at Waipa, and then, after graduation next year, the other DukeEngage students.

Saying this without melodrama, I probably will never spend time with these people again.

Duke students are almost always impermanent in their various communities. They come from every which way from all over the globe to convene at a university that then sends them to other places. It’s an interesting experience to not have a sense of place. To feel like everything for years at a time is just a period spent in limbo. To not be able to set roots because it’s beyond even the hopeless romantic’s most vain attempt to settle in a place that, in a few short years, will be voided of mostly every friendship he has made.

After parting, of course, peoples’ relationships are fundamentally changed. Their reliance on close proximity for enrichment is too strong. But in each season, as more amazing people enter into my life and then depart, comes the notion of staying in touch.

The idea of truly staying in touch over distance is something mankind has attempted over hundreds of years, but really only come even close to solving recently with the advent of phones and social media.

However, at least for me, it doesn’t really work.

It’s incredibly difficult to maintain so many close relationships digitally as people pass through your life. We evolved largely without the capability to stay in contact over distance and time– and I’d argue it’s still beyond us now. But technology can make it incredibly tempting–we can see the possibility at our fingertips.

I’ve seen in many of my peers a struggle to cope with this. They don’t want the connections to end because they think they can and are obligated to try to save those connections. And maybe they can save some. But this is a human problem that has been heightened for our generation by FaceTime, Snapchat, social media, etc.

I think that for myself I must be content with fond farewells. If it could be articulated, I think the idea of fond farewells between friends is one of sorrow without bitterness. I think it’s less problematic to say goodbye to a friend and be content with wishing them well. Leave the maintenance of the relationship to occasional messages or a chance to meet up, and be happy with that.

However, to mark farewells as a thing of somber beauty or a thing simply of sorrow is not a decision on which I have entirely made up my own mind. It’s sad that relationships must end, and I’m not sure I entirely buy into the argument that something’s fleetingness can make it more beautiful.

Regardless, friendships that will diminish (in the present if not in memory) are part of the cycle I’ve seen in my life and now here at Waipa.

As I said, many things here have changed.

But some things remain the same. And over longer lengths of time, everything remains the same. The land is still a place of abundance. Though fewer in number, the pigglies are still wiggly. Friendships grow and change. People keep going. And to be cliche, there is some sort of comforting consistency in constant change.