I was once heading to a dinner in a London cab with a very nice gentleman in his late sixties, and probably because of my French accent we started speaking and discussing about life. He suddenly pulled out a piece of paper and said “look, I read this everyday”. It said:
Message from an old friend:
First I was young and dying to finish my high school and start college
And then I was dying to finish college and start working
Then I was dying to marry and have children
And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough so I could go back to work
But then I was dying to retire
And now I am dying …
And suddenly I realised I forgot to live
To make money we lose our health, and then in order to restore our health we lose our money …
We live as if we are never going to die, and we die as if we never had lived.
This made a lasting impression on me.
In modern society’s natural inclination to ensure that the next moment contains what this one lacks, we manage to become permanent fugitives from ourselves and our present.
Of course, the pandemic has forced many of us to stay in and mostly alone or with very few people for a long time. This kind of relative solitude is uncomfortable, and sometimes unsettling.
But what if this pocket of stillness was a nourishing time to confront who we really are and what we want?
This Ted Talk will inspire you to slow down, pause, reflect, and reconnect with your inner self.
At the age of 29, best selling author Pico Iyer gave up his glamorous life in Manhattan to move to Kyoto, Japan, in order to embrace a quieter life of contemplation. What we really crave, he discovered, is intimacy and kindness.
From the beaches of Bali to the Champs-Élysées in Paris, the outback of Australia to the mountains of Tibet, Pico Iyer spent a lifetime traveling the globe, landing his dream job reporting on world affairs for Time Magazine in 1982.
So where does someone who has seen every corner of the world say is the best place to visit? Nowhere.
Going nowhere … isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.
This Ted Talk is a counterintuitive meditation, where Pico Iyer takes a look at the incredible insight that comes with taking time for stillness. In our world of constant movement and distraction, he shows us what strategies we all can use to take back a few minutes out of every day.
In his book The Art of Stillness: Adventures in going nowhere, Iyer writes:
In an age of speed, I began to think nothing could be more exhilarating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.
I often think we’re most happy when we forget the time.
They found surveys that when somebody is standing in a street with a hand extended in need and people are walking past or stopping to talk to that person, the one factor that determines whether they’ll stop and help the person or not is not income or background or race or any of that. It’s just whether they have the time or not.
If you don’t have time, you don’t have enough kindness in your life. You don’t have the chance to open yourself up.“Travel is how I make a living, but stillness is how I make a life. Travel is how I decorate the house of my life, but stillness is how I lay the foundation.
It takes courage, of course, to step out of the fray, as it takes courage to do anything that’s necessary, whether tending to a loved one on her deathbed or turning away from that sugarcoated doughnut.
The Covid period has been challenging for many, but for the fortunate few, who can emerge out of it with health, job stability and financial security, it is a reset that enables to look within – confront who we are, reawaken to what we truly want and revisit life choices.