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  • Writer's pictureAram Mitchell


A couple weeks ago I went to the fair. I ambled among the stalls and food trucks, with loved ones and with strangers. A chaos of pleas swirled around me through the bleat of alpacas and of carnival barkers. It was a sort of wilderness I suppose. Though I think of wilderness as being about instinct and intuition, whereas the fair is about cultivation and consumption. Wilderness is heightened by the absence of commonality. The fair is fashioned around a plethora of repetition.

There is a variety of wisdom in both, wilderness and fairground, as there is in most human constructions if you look at them with your head turned to the side and eyes squinted just so.

As I understand it, that’s the way that wisdom operates. Wisdom shows up when we root around in mundane moments, and in seeming contrasts, to discover the portion of the thing that resonates with what the heart knows as good.

Wilderness is austere relative to the comforts of the hearth, yet it is a relief relative to the din of daily demands. The fair is madness relative to the quiet of a riverside trail, but it is a balm of community relative to the loneliness of our inner dialogue.

In both contexts we have the opportunity to melt into a comforting anonymity. Both contexts help me to remember something of my humanity. Wilderness is apophatic, it reminds me what I am not. The fair is affirmative, it reminds me of what we are. I welcome them both.

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