Every time I read Annie Dillard, I grow. As a writer, as a thinker, as an observer, as a human being.
And the book of hers that I keep coming back to is Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.
The summary--which can't possibly account for the power of the book itself, but whatever--is this: It's a non-fiction narrative account of a year of observing nature, in the area of Tinker Creek, Virginia. That's it.
But it's so much more than that, too: It's a study of observation, itself. An account of life, itself. It's about staring at the world up close, holding truths, being stunned by beauty.
The experience of reading it--even just a chapter, just a page--is a lot like having my vision tweaked at the eye doctor. Waiting as he slides new lenses over my eyes; watching the office grow sharper and clearer around me.
Maybe it's her vocabulary: the dense, dizzying crush of it. I feel more awakened to words, to the very real power that they have.
Maybe it's how she observes: how closely she looks. And then, how she zooms out to paint the big picture, only its bigger than we ever dreamed.
Or maybe it's her insights. The beauty of her thinking.
However it works, I reel away from this book every time I touch it, with a deeper, richer, fuller, magnified view of the world.
I really can't recommend it enough.
Here, a bit of beauty for your Friday:
Moments are not lost. Time out of mind is time nevertheless, cumulative, informing the present. From even the deepest slumber you wake with a jolt--older, closer to death, and wiser, grateful for breath. You quit your seat in a darkened movie theater, walk past the empty lobby, out the double glass doors, and step like Orpheus into the street. And the cumulative force of the present you've forgotten sets you reeling, staggering, as if you'd been struck broadside by a plank. It all floods back to you. Yes, you say, as if you've been asleep a hundred years, this is it, this is the real weather, the lavender light fading, the full moisture in your lungs, the heat from the pavement on your lips and palms--not the dry orange dust from horses' hooves, the salt sea, the sour Coke--but this solid air, the blood pumping up your thighs again, your fingers alive. And on the way home you drive exhilarated, energized, under scented, silhouetted trees. -- Annie Dillard