Pico Iyer considers The Art of Stillness the unexpected adventure of staying put and reveals a counterintuitive truth: The more ways we have to connect, the more we seem desperate to unplug. Why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer, who has journeyed from Easter Island to Ethiopia, Cuba to Kathmandu, think that sitting quietly in a room might be the ultimate adventure? There’s never been a greater need to slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still.
In the time that we are sharing this evening in grace, our human race is going to gather eighteen times more data than exists in the entire library of congress. Which suggests to me that once upon a time thirty years ago, getting information was a great luxury, now getting away from it is. In this wonderful new field that rejoices in the name of interruption science, researchers have found that in a room such as this, it takes the average person twenty five minutes to recover her concentration after a phone call. But of course, now a days in a room such as this, the average human being receives a phone call every eleven minutes.
So we’re never caught up and the more we try to keep up with the moment, the further we fall behind. The great zen teacher, late teacher, Toni Packer said once, wonderfully I think, humans were meant to live at the speed of life, not the speed of light and I think it remains to be seen whether we were ever engineered to live at a pace dictated by machines. And, I think at some level all of us know that sensation of having more and more information and but less and less time to make sense of it, or to process it.
We know that we can make contact wonderfully with people on the furthest corners of the globe, but sometimes in that process, we almost seem to lose contact with ourselves. And I sometimes notice that I have more and more time saving devices in my life and yet I seem to have less and less time.