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.