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Pico Iyer: The art of stillness

Posted at age 26.
Edited .

This talk was fascinating, and made me think (more!) about my job situation and what I want to do with my life. While Iyer promotes going nowhere, this talk (and his other, “Where is home?“) actually made me think more about whether I want to spend more time living in other countries.

Some paraphrased excerpts and notes for my later review:

Develop more attentive and appreciative eyes by going nowhere, just by sitting still. It was the only way I could find to sift through the slideshow of my experience and make sense of the future and the past.

What moves you most? Where does your truest happiness lie? Making a living often points opposite of making a life.

Trip gave me some amazing sights, but it’s only sitting still that allows me to turn those into lasting insights. So much of our life takes place inside our heads that if I really want to change my life, I might best begin by changing my mind.

Internet sabbath … go offline one day a week, like some tech entrepreneurs do. Only one of 10 Commandments mention holy, the one on the sabbath. The Jewish Torah’s longest chapter is on the sabbath.

As soon as I get to a place of real quiet, I realize that it’s only by going there that I’ll have anything fresh or creative or joyful to share with my wife or bosses or friends. Otherwise really I’m just foisting on them my exhausting or my distractedness which is no blessing at all.”

My life [was pretty much the one I dreamed of as a little boy, with nice apartment and travels], but I could never separate myself enough from them to hear myself think or really to understand if I was truly happy. So I abandoned my dream life for a single room on the back streets of Kyoto, Japan.

I know in my bones it is the time I’ve spent going nowhere that’s going to sustain me much more than the time I’ve spent racing around.

One of the beauties of travel is it allows you to bring stillness into the motion and commotion of the world.

Mentioned Leonard Cohen’s “Old Ideas” released at age 77 as fruit of years of taking time and trouble to sit still.