I don’t remember exactly how I first discovered this book; I can’t point to anyone who recommended it, or any series of events that led to its inclusion as the last on my 2016 reading list. But somehow I stumbled across the name of the author a month or so ago. I remember looking him up: seeing his picture and reading about some of his activities. Right from the start, as a Canadian and one interested in nature, he impressed me. So I got my hands on the book, and managed to focus my time on the subway during my daily commute on reading its insights. I remember several times just stopping to think about his words amid the hustle and bustle of the train ride and the people jostling around me. The peace I derived in the midst of all that confused energy was almost palpable.
I am currently less than halfway to the end, but I felt a need to write about the experience as it is happening, not just after it is done. Mr. Herriot writes a lot about connection and spirituality: and even though his world is starkly different from mine, he builds words that form bridges across space and time. From his descriptions in the book, we could hardly be more different. Though from the same nation, I am Golden Horseshoe while he is more Prairie; I am Urban while he is more Rural; I am institutionalized Religion while he is more personal Faith. I am gay, while he is straight. Yet all of that seemed insignificant as I followed him (or am following him) through his words on a something of a pilgrimage that is intent on healing and rediscovery. The range of his thoughts as he progresses echoes my own. I may not agree with everything he says, but at least he has challenged my way of thinking: with thoughts on what it is to be a man, to be human, and to be part of the natural world. It’s been a while since I’ve come across writing that has done that for me.