Learning to go nowhere!
Learning to go nowhere!
My traveling assignments were so much that patrons of our hospital thought I work abroad and come to my place only a few days a month. My wife always teases me saying I am born with wings and wheels! Traveling always had its own consequences such as jet lag on me. Like most people, I spent my traveling time for preparing my presentations, or strolling in the duty-free shops or watching in-flight movies non -stop. How could I have used that time better way so that after reaching my destination I am fresh and invigorated?
Then it came as enlightenment, “For me, a flight is just a brief retreat in the sky!” After reading this profound statement, I paused and put this small wonderful book down for a while and reflected upon it. As the author himself ponders, was this something available only to a monk who’d meditated for three decades in the Himalayas, and not for rest of us? The answer is, fortunately NO! We can all have it.
I am a great fan of TED, a vision created to bring diverse and innovative ideas to the world from the very people who created them, thus crafting a new celebrity community and a phenomenon. Not only I listen to TED talks frequency, but I have also read several books on TED talks. Recent purchase was TED Books Box Set: The Creative Mind containing 3 books, The Art of Stillness, The Future of Architecture, and Judge This. When the package arrived, I felt a pinch on my pocket as each book was only a small booklet of fewer than 100 pages! I didn’t touch the box for a while, as I thought it was a bit expensive and I even contemplated returning them!
I had to pick them up one day as my wife sternly reprimanded me not to order new books until I read the ones I have already bought. I picked up ‘The Art of Stillness – Adventures in Going Nowhere!” by Pico Iyer as the author appeared to be an Indian. What attracted me, even more, was the side quote on the front page, “In an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.” For a man who believed in constant motion, this was something strange. So was the title “Adventures in Going Nowhere.” My adventurism had taken me to seventy-five countries as a resource person for conferences, for humanitarian activities and to help my friends in their professional work. I wondered how can going Nowhere can be an adventure!?
I expected to finish this 72-page book of post card size pages in less than an hour. However, every sentence made me pause and reflect upon the profundity of the meaning, thus taking a complete day. With anecdotes from the lives of Mahatma Gandhi, Emily Dickinson, Leonard Cohen, and Marcel Proust, the author reveals how stillness can quicken creativity, and opens up a way of living that counters the mad rush of our modern lives. Iyer aptly states, “more and more of us feel like emergency-room physicians, permanently on call, required to heal ourselves but unable to find the prescriptions for all the clutter on our desk.” He emphasizes, “Stillness is not just an indulgence for those with enough resources – it’s a necessity for anyone who wishes together less visible resources. Going nowhere is not about austerity so much as about coming closer to one’s senses.”
I have read several books on the importance of meditation and keeping stillness. Another favorite book of mine which dealt with the same topic was Eckhart Tolle’s “Stillness Speaks.” However, Iyer’s book stands out it for its brevity, humble and succinct language, research data without jargon, and sharing personal experiences without reservations. After putting the book back to the rack, I am not only compelled to read his other books, I am also motivated to read Emily Dickinson, Dalai Lama, Mathieu Ricard and listen to ballads of Leonardo Cohen. As a proud Indian, I have read Bapu’s books long back.
These few words from the book shall always linger in my mind for rest of my life, “At some point, all the horizontal trips in the world stop compensating for the need to go deep, into somewhere challenging and unexpected; movement makes the most sense when grounded in stillness. In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing could feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.”
There are three important and interesting TED talks by Pico Iyer and you can get the essence of this book at those talks.
Dr. Prahlada N.B, Chitradurga,