In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig describes a 17-day journey of father and son across the U.S., on secondary roads where possible, as a sort of Chautauqua:
“Like the traveling tent-show Chautauquas that used to move across America…an old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the hearer.”
We now live in an uber-plugged in world. Citizens anywhere can access the outside world at will. And yet the idea of a Chautauqua, going on the road to visit these remote and isolated places, is appealing. I’ve been re-reading Wallace Stegner’s Wolf Willow, his story of growing up in the Cypress Hills in pioneer days. And I’m drawn to know more about these wild and difficult places, their all-encompassing sacredness and how people live in their midst. Alberta and Saskatchewan are going through tough times right now, and we’ve been through tough times before. Beyond the highlights in glossy tourist brochures, I want to understand this landscape and learn what it has to share about living in the West and about progress and resiliency.
This is my Chautauqua. … More Chautauqua Revival