March 22, 2012

Ramblings of a Seeker

I am in the last one-third of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a personal, non-fiction narrative by Annie Dillard.  Broadly-speaking, the text intricately captures the overlapping limitations of our worldly, moral explanations--and juxtaposes it with life's experiences within nature as the connecting fiber between human and the larger world.  Dillard herself describes Pilgrim at Tinker Creek as a "book of theology."  However, the atheist in me sees beyond her inclusion of religion, seeks the meanings in-between the words: the rich subtext, ripe with intuitive leaps and bounds.

A seeker, I have always been.  So, I was happy (to say the least) to have come across this particular book of Dillard's in a second-hand shop.  It is one of the many in her prolific career: her Pulitzer Prize-winning piece on seeking within nature.  Admittedly, I find an unnerving amount of (sometimes cruel) beauty in a leaf; a dying grasshopper; the wind.  Nature amuses me for hours, days, years--an endless game of hide-and-seek. Dillard's work attests to this attractive element of nature, amid the specific backdrop of the seemingly-tranquil Tinker Creek in Virginia.   She stalks, she sees, and she unties: in a eloquent, dry humor/witty, and contextual way.  So witty--and sometimes so abstract--that I am at times lost on the analogies.  And in them. 

Seeking, rather than hiding, is a common theme in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.  Each chapter is titled according to an act of such made by nature or by a human.  My personal favorites are: "Winter" and "The Present."  The weather and being present.  More importantly, the best part the work itself is Dillard's uncannily-precise gift of connecting chapter-to-chapter, theme-to-theme.  It is in these connections that the reader finds what is (sometimes) unknowingly sought after in the act of seeking-while-reading: some darn good writing.  Dillard has a seemingly innate ability to connect the dots, and to connect the nearly invisible dots, in a clearly-articulated manner that makes sense.  A difficult task. 

(And let's face it: things that make sense are the best things in the world because we have to put less concerted effort into making sense of them.)

So, to Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a pleasurable read for a seeker of sorts: thank you.  After reading the first few chapters, I thought that I'd donate you--but you have proven me wrong.  I shall keep you.

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