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town signs

If you drive from my house to my Mom’s house you’ll spend about four hours in Maine before you cross the border, then four hours in New Brunswick driving north and east to skirt the Bay of Fundy, then four hours driving first toward Halifax then down the west coast of the Nova Scotian peninsula. Along that final stretch you’ll pass through towns with town signs that tout their town mottos.

Windsor, The Birthplace of Hockey. Digby, Scallop Capital of the World. Middleton, Heart of the Valley. Annapolis Royal, Cradle of our Nation. But my favorite two are West Hents and New Minas.

If you drive from my house in Maine to my Mom’s house in Nova Scotia at some point toward the end of your drive you will pass through West Hents and the sign marking your entry into it: West Hents, The Best of Everything.

Then about thirty minutes later you’ll pass another sign: New Minas, A Good Place to Live.

I try my best to engage the things I encounter in life without unnecessary judgements — and I haven’t spent the time required to make a sound assessment of either West Hents or New Minas — but one of these places I find believable, even inspiring in its simplicity. I am skeptical of the other.

As I move into the space of this new year, and what feels like a fertile season of life, I aim to have the courage to frame my aspiration in the contours of my limits. I intend to find wisdom that is rooted in specificity. After all, without particularity to contain it, what is excellence other than an empty claim?

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