The Art of Patience: Seeking the Snow Leopard in Tibet
by Sylvain Tesson
Translated by Frank Wynne
Published by Penguin Press on July 13, 2021
“You could invest all your energy into exploring the world and go right past the living.”
Sylvain Tesson offers us an uncommon narrative. Unlike a traditional American nature adventure or natural history, it doesn’t dwell on the scientific details of the quarry nor the heart-pumping derring-do of a chase. To best appreciate this book, read it the same way it was written. Read with stillness and with expansiveness. Read with the mind of a philosopher and the heart of an artist.
Tesson’s story is not just about the snow leopard but about the region’s many creatures and their interactions, including those with and between humans. He delves into topics as diverse as whether or not there is an animal morality. Elsewhere in his story, he considers the Chinese Taoism principle of seeing the unseen.
Tesson states that he is not typically patient. Consequently, the waiting, the trek, and the unaccustomed environment stimulate some deep reflection. Even where the prose felt as jagged as the landscape, I highlighted many passages to prompt my own consideration. Frequently, these philosophical bits make one feel uncomfortable with their truth.
“After ten days, encountering such animals now seemed commonplace. I resented myself for growing accustomed to these apparitions.”
How often do I experience the same diminishing sense of appreciation after repeatedly seeing an extraordinary sight?
The Art of Patience is more than a book about a journey to see an elusive creature and capture its essence through photography. Savor the descriptions and ponder the messages.
Why you should not miss this one:
- stretch yourself beyond the familiar format of American-style nature adventures
- reflect on some philosophical lessons presented by nature
- if you’ve ever wanted to photograph a secretive species in a challenging habitat, this story will spotlight the dedication necessary to succeed
Thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Press, the author, Sylvain Tesson, and the translator, Frank Wynne, for the opportunity to read a digital copy in exchange for this review.
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