The Snow Leopard
by Peter Matthiessen
Long heralded as the travel book, it had been on my list to read for months; the push I needed to prioritise it and push it to the top of that list was hearing the high praise it received from Don George and Tony Wheeler at their On The Road session at the recent Melbourne Writers Festival.
The book recounts the two month journey undertaken by Peter Matthiessen and his friend and naturalist George Schaller through the Himalayas to the Crystal Mountain in the Dolpo region of Nepal. The plan was to observe the habits of the bharal (blue sheep) of the Himalayan region, and to hopefully catch sight of the elusive snow leopard. What transpired was what can only be described as a deep spiritual journey.
After losing his wife to cancer, 46 year old Peter left his youngest son in the care of good friends and spent day after day trekking through the snow and mountains, in search of not only the animals, but it seems inner peace, as well.
A quick Google search will tell you more than enough about this book, so I’m not going to regurgitate it all here. What I will tell you is that I’m glad I finally did read it when I did; it was the right time in my life for a book like that. It’s not a story about looking for rare animals, not really. It was a reading meditation on life, death, peace, hurt, loss, suffering, adventure and real living.
There were so many beautifully written passages, it’s hard to pick favourites, but this one below about freedom and gratitude would certainly be up there for me.
There’s not a heap to say about this timeless tome that hasn’t already been said by someone else far more eloquent and educated than I. What I will say is that if you open this book with the right mindset, open and calm and willing to learn, you’ll come out the otherside with a truly different perspective on life, which is a beautiful thing. Amazing book and concepts, get your copy here, or at your nearest bookstore!