By Connor Callahan
Well here we are, wrapping up another wonderful year at St. John’s College. It’s been a long, rough year for some, and, unfortunately, we’ll be saying goodbye to some wonderful people as they go out into the world. But the good thing for most of us is that we’ll be coming back for at least one more year. While the seniors were ushered out of school by a commencement speech about the futility of commencement speeches, delivered masterfully by James Schamus, I’d like to focus less on the way that we all have to leave, because, honestly, I don’t like to think about it, rising senior that I am. Instead, I’d like to point out that when we leave a place, when we “go on vacation,” we’re never really separated from the things that brought us to, and keep us at, St. John’s.
When summer hits Annapolis, you’re just as likely to be staying in town as you are to be leaving it. People find places to stay and jobs to keep them afloat, and the dialogue and the learning never stops. And even when people do head off to remote states and foreign countries, emails are written, plans are made, and the odds of not seeing a Johnnie over the break becomes slim to none. “But,” you might say, “what if I don’t? What if I don’t keep in touch with anyone? What if I don’t want to see anyone?” And that’s a valid question. Because sometimes you really do need a break from this small, intense community. Sometimes you just want to run away and make a fresh start. But here’s the catch: It’s small communities all the way down. You can never escape people who will shape how you think, act, and come to be an integral part of your life.
I’ll use a personal example. I love Annapolis. It’s a wonderful city with lots to do, but since I’ve spent well over ninety percent of the last three years within three miles of campus, I figured I needed a break. So, on a whim, after the school year ended, I decided that I should get away, just for a week. As I write this, I am sitting at St. John’s in Santa Fe, watching as another group of students, some of whom I know, others whom I’ve just recently come to know and love, pack their bags and say farewell. Most of them will be gone before I am. I will witness two campuses shrivel into maintenance. And in these last days I’ve noticed that these people, Johnnies who don’t know me from Adam, are good people. And that made me realize that we’re all trying to be good people, and that it’s not just for us to exclusively learn with one another. We’re not supposed to block the non-Johnnies in our life out because we don’t think they’ll understand Euclid. The task for us is to learn how to communicate with one another, so that we can help forge new communities all across the country and the globe.
It sounds trite, but it bears repeating: anyone you see around you is a possible experience for knowledge. By communicating, we learn how to better communicate. So, while I urge you to stick around and build a summer Johnnie Bubble—because, hey, it’s fun—I would also like to remind you that adventure is out there, and everyone you know is a Johnnie for simply knowing you.