Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reading Peter Matthiessen's "The Snow Leopard"

The Snow LeopardThe Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's  so uncanny how Peter Matthiessen's hiking journey through the Dolpo region in Nepal seems to mirror my own hike on the Inca Trail in Peru. Even his initial doubts about going on the hike into the unknown in search of the elusive snow leopard rings true with me when he wrote these words: " On the calamitous weather, the journey was losing all reality, and the warm smile of a pretty tourist at the hotel desk unsettled me; where did I imagine I was going, where and why?" The uncertainty of the journey,the  grandeur of the mountains, the bad weather, the hardy porters, the poverty one encounters on the outskirts of the wilderness: Peter experienced them all, and so did I. I haven't finished the book yet but I can already vividly recall the pounding in my feet and the heaving of my lungs as I went up and down those Andean ridges and the ecstatic feeling I had when I reached the highest point of the trail. Peter never saw the snow leopard, but entermeshing his journey with Buddhist contemplation, he achieved something else: a sort of Zen oneness with nature. I can totally relate to that. This book is for anyone who seeks a meaning beyond the platitudes of religion and materialism. Peter seems to be telling us that every life is a journey in search of the snow leopard. which we may never even get a glimpse of, but a journey worth taking nonetheless.

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