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Friday, August 31, 2018

Reader's Diary #1897- Laurie Sarkadi: Voice in the Wild

I grew up with a very opinionated atheist father. Religion was dumb, evil, brainwashing and western science ruled all. He was also a water diviner. He'd walk around with a Y-shaped alder branch and suddenly it would bend with such force that his forearms would ache afterward. A good many drinking wells near my home were found thanks to him. He attributed nothing mystical to it. He couldn't explain it either but figured it was just something science hadn't yet figured out.

So I was quite surprised and a little insulted one night as a teen to watch a science show on TV in which water divining was debunked and passed off as some sort of charlatan act and believed in by new age nuts. He was definitely neither.

I mention all of this as it's likely important to how I found myself reacting to Laurie Sarkadi's memoirs Voice in the Wild. There were lots I effortlessly loved about the book. For instance, she's lived a fascinating life (worked in Africa, lived off the grid near Yellowknife, was sued for slander, had a breast cancer scare, and more). She also took a really novel approach to a collection of memoirs, using various animals to theme each section and finding parallels between her life and that animal including the animal's biology and various cultural beliefs about the animal.

But she also delved a lot into what I would, for lack of a better word, categorize as supernatural stuff. This I found more difficult and admittedly it's largely my western science upbringing that made me so skeptical. Thanks to the water diving memory, I was open to some of the ideas, but being open to something and believing something are miles apart and the latter cannot be forced. Still, I'm also at an age and place in my life where I no longer needed to accept all of Sarkadi's beliefs or interpretations to have been interested in what she had to say. So yes, more challenging, but pauses for thought and for appreciating different perspectives are never a bad thing.

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