[Book Review] The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer


the art of stillness pico iyer

This is perfect for anyone who’s invested in inner work, especially now that many of us are still in isolation because of the pandemic.

It is also for those who have been seeking quiet for a long time, probably because they have been tired of the chaos they usually experience in their lives. As the book suggests, we need more and more quiet time as our means to connect grows.
In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating 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.
In this book, Pico Iyer talks about the beauty of motionless journeys, in which one can go deeper into their thoughts. He also shares his encounter with individuals who have been constantly seeking stillness. It also tells the story of some famous personalities who thrived in solitude.

Despite its shortness and simplicity, this book has left a mark on me. I’m a writer and an introvert, after all. Plus, I am the kind of person who usually gets lost in the woods of their own thoughts. In fact, it is due to this habit of mine that I am able to process past experiences thoroughly and find gems in them that I can write about.
Writers, of course, are obliged by our professions to spend much of our time going nowhere. Our creations come not when we’re out in the world, gathering impressions, but when we’re sitting still, turning those impressions into sentences. Our job, you could say, is to turn, through stillness, a life of movement into art. Sitting still is our workplace, sometimes our battlefield.
Also, this book reminds me to always take as much as I can. Although I value having quiet time on a regular basis, there are also days when I simply let myself drown in the noise of the modern world. Due to the nature of my full-time job, I sometimes feel obligated to stay connected all day during work days, which can be really exhausting. Besides draining my energy, this phase also keeps me from being creative.

But of course, having the time to simply do nothing but be alone with one’s thoughts remains a privilege. In reality, a lot of people don’t have the luxury of time to sit down and remain still for hours as they take on a motionless journey.

I think one of the biggest challenges we have right now is how to fight for a better society in which people won’t simply be enslaved in the trade they are part of, so that they can also afford to cherish the art of stillness.

(Image from Simon & Shuster)
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Mina Deocareza
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