Community, Balance, and Taco Bell Chalupas

By Micah Berberich (Colorado)

I do not think I realized when first signing up for Summit Semester how rare of a community it truly is.

Initially, I referred to it in jest as a kind of social experiment, and in a sense that is exactly what it is. That a community as authentic and as rare as this one should upon the first impression be considered nothing less than an anomaly, an unnatural experience so uncommon in most of our social circles at home, is a sad thought. I think our culture is starved for honest and authentic human connection regardless of where we are in life.

Community is a universal force that surrounds and connects us. We are all made to naturally seek that connection, be it from each other or something higher, that intuitive impulse is always present. It’s obvious to me now that Summit Semester was born out of this need, to invite people into a community that not only learns together but lives life together, something few other academic institutions offer. Through honesty and the application of what is learned, we have the opportunity to be called to a higher standard by others.

More often than not, on a road trip people have one of two thoughts: when is the next Taco Bell going to come along the highway, and what are we going to do to stay awake and distract our minds? Both are of equal importance and require serious consideration.

Road trips are much like Chalupas.

The car, like the extra thick tortilla, serves as the base for all the individual ingredients without which it would be nothing. Each of the ingredients, from the spicy ground beef to the cool sour cream all come together to create the whole… road trip… chalupa. In the past, my solution to an enjoyable road trip has always been to turn on some music or read a book and let time drift pleasantly by until the destination is reached. However, I have come to realize with my time here at Semester that I am missing when I choose to take a leave of absence from reality in these ways. I become ignorant of the scenery and the people around me. There is nothing inherently wrong with tuning everything out and enjoying the solitude of the road, but there is something to be said when you have the opportunity to share those moments with the people beside you.

I think at this point it’s probably pretty obvious where I am going with this, but I will just take that as an indication of its truth because it is often the things that seem most obvious that are most true and deserve to be repeated. It is not just in cars that I have made the conscious choice to check out; from meals had with family and friends to ignore opportunities to spend times with others, it is easy to just “skip” and take the time for myself and my own interests. Of course, it very much depends on every individual’s inclination, be it extroverted or introverted, but for my own sake, a balance needs to be found.

Mine was most apparent on the most recent trip to and from the Grand Canyon. It was made clear to me the mistake I’ve been making of not being present, with the goading of a certain classmate to keep me from my instinct of removing myself and shutting down. The vast majority of the trip was spent engaged and enjoying the company of those around me, creating memories, and without a doubt, I am better for it.

This lesson is something I’m learning more the more time goes by here at Summit Semester, as I learn to find and apply the balance between pursuing self and pursuing people. It is difficult, but at this point, there is no better place that I know of to learn and grow in this way than Summit Semester.