Communication Studies, Taos

During summer 2012, communication studies students in the Meadows School of the Arts are at SMU-in-Taos, where they are studying nonprofit management and working as interns at nonprofit organizations in the city of Taos. Students will focus on issues involving the environment, the arts, public radio and TV, and nonprofit community outreach.

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Defining yourself; a slower pace? Part II

An update from Monica, a sophomore Hunt Leadership Scholar planning to major in business and communication studies. She is interning at Taos Community Foundation

This man would come into the Taos bank every day — shoeless, dirty and looking homeless. No one suspected he was a multimillionaire. According to the ex-banker who told me this story, a surprising number of people live like that out here. It’s just part of the Taos mindset. And you learn that you can’t just assume people are exactly what they appear to be. You can’t know if that man with the long stringy beard, walking alone down the road for miles, doesn’t have some extravagant life story.

Not to go all cliché on you, but shouldn’t that always be the case? You never know someone until you know them. We already know this on some level. But in Taos, most people think that what counts “is not what you’ve done, but who you are.” (I actually read this in the local paper).

Coming from the big city, this perspective seems backwards. I watched Batman Begins the other night, in which Rachel Dawes tells Bruce Wayne that it’s not who he is underneath that matters, but what he does. “It’s what you do that defines you.”

For me, neither of these two ways of thinking is entirely correct. But if I had to choose one, I would be inclined to side with Rachel Dawes. Action is what matters. I could think all day about how to behave, but the actions I take are the ones that push me to be the person I’m becoming.

Maybe that explains why I try to keep so busy. Everyone wants to feel like they have some sort of impact on others. Socrates made his impact by teaching, rather than being a simple, completive man. He made his impact by taking action, and his significant actions are why we remember his name more than 2,000 years later.

This urgent need to impact the world through our actions takes time. And since I always seem pressed for time, I never seem to get around to doing what I want to do. In Dallas, I rarely get enough sleep because I don’t want to miss out on anything. Yet here, that’s not the case. In addition to the beautiful scenery and sacred history of the land, I think the unique sense of time is what differentiates the people of Taos from others.

I’m not saying that they don’t care about impact or take action here. But there is certainly less emphasis on it, and less stress. Locals tell me a Saturday night doesn’t have to be full of activities to be successful. It can be spent at home reading a book. It’s not considered lazy just to stay home on a Friday night instead of getting together with friends. Interestingly enough, Taos folks seem to realize the value of a slower pace. And maybe by spending enough time here, I too can begin to recognize the value in slowing down a little.

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