Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – A Meditative Journey into Nature and the Self

August 25, 2012

A Book Review

Author – Annie Dillard

  • Won the Pulitzer Prize

Perennial Classics, 288 p.

Yes, this book won the Pulitzer Prize quite a few years ago. Just based on that, you know you will like it, right? Even so, I’m going to tell you why it has been of value to me.

You see, besides being a writer, I’m also a meditator in the Buddhist Vipassana tradition. Being very “mindful” of my thoughts and the world around me, even when not meditating, is an integral part of that practice.

One evening while talking with my meditation teacher, he recommended I read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, both from the perspective of a writer and also as a dedicated practitioner of meditation. Intrigued, I got a copy. Glad I did.

Annie Dillard is one hell of a writer, of that there is no doubt. Start there. I can only hope that in some lifetime I can write with such depth, feeling and clarity.

Speaking to the reader directly, Dillard delivers an unflinching narrative about her isolated existence during one entire year of her life. At her home in the mountains of Virginia, she launched a quest to understand the mysteries of life, violent death, God and all of existence. Yup, a very tall order by a very determined and clear-eyed woman.

When I think about what Dillard accomplished, I see it as a yearlong meditation retreat of the most “mindful” sort. Yes, she studied books during that year but mostly she peered into the complexities and patterns she found in the natural world around her. But really, during all that time up there in the mountains under the sun, moon and stars, she was also probing her own essence. As a reader, I thoroughly identified with her journey and you just might do the same.

The book is one of self discovery but also one of cosmic proportions. What a writer and what a fascinating human being.

Click here to find this book online.

Previous post:

Next post: