10 Jul
Posted in: Books
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It’s Time.

I’ve finally started reading The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen, which I’ve been meaning to read forever, but which I kept putting off — maybe because it seemed too masculine to me, all that trekking through rain and snow etc., even though it was recommended to me over and over as a gorgeously written mediation on the meaning of life, more of an inner journey really, a deeply thoughtful exploration of love and loss, etc. etc.

I’d owned a paperback copy for years, picking it up every so often, but always putting it back down. I’d packed it and moved it with me from house to house several times, but finally gave it away in one of my periodic house cleaning purges. Then when the author died this year, and I read another great review of this, his most famous book, I almost went out and bought a brand new copy, but somehow I just sort of forgot about it.

Now, I don’t know why, I’ve decided it’s time.

Here’s a sample:

A luminous mountain morning. Mist and fire smoke, sun shafts and dark ravines: a peak of Annapurna poises on soft clouds. In fresh light, to the peeping of baby chickens, we take breakfast in the village tea house, and are under way well before seven.

A child dragging bent useless legs is crawling up the hill outside the village. Nose to the stones, goat dung, and muddy trickles, she pulls herself along like a broken cricket. We falter, ashamed of our strong step, and noticing this, she gazes up, clear-eyed, without resentment–it seems much worse that she is pretty. In Bengal, GS says stiffly, beggars will break their children’s knees to achieve this pitiable effect for business purposes: this is his way of expressing his distress.

But the child that lies here at our boots in not a beggar; she is merely a child, staring in curiosity at tall, white strangers. I look to give her something–a new life?–yet am afraid to tamper with such dignity. And so I smile as best I can, and say “Names-te!” “Good morning!” How absurd! And her voice follows as we go away, a small clear smiling voice–“Namas-te!”–a Sanskrit word for greeting and parting that means, “I salute you.”



It’s definitely time.

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