Pico Iyer

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My Christmas present to myself each year is to see how much air travel can open up the world and take me to places as far from sheltered California and Japan as possible.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Christmas
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Nearly everybody I know does something to try to remove herself to clear her head and to have enough time and space to think... All of us instinctively feel that something inside us is crying out for more spaciousness and stillness to offset the exhilarations of this movement and the fun and diversion of the modern world.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Space
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In many a piece of music, it's the pause or the rest that gives the piece its beauty and its shape. And I know I, as a writer, will often try to include a lot of empty space on the page so that the reader can complete my thoughts and sentences and so that her imagination has room to breathe.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Music
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To me, part of the beauty of a comma is that it offers a rest, like one in music: a break that gives the whole piece of music greater shape, deeper harmony. It allows us to catch our breath.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Beauty
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We readily go to the health club when our doctor suggests we need more exercise, but we regularly neglect the 'mental health club' that our well-being more truly requires.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Health
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If we do away with semi-colons, parentheses and much else, we will lose all music, nuance and subtlety in communication - and end up shouting at one another in block capitals.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Communication
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We all know how we can be turned around by a magic place; that's why we travel, often. And yet we all know, too, that the change cannot be guaranteed. Travel is a fool's paradise, Emerson reminded us, if we think that we can find anything far off that we could not find at home.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Travel
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Travel for me is all about transformation, and I'm fascinated by those people who really do come back from a trip unrecognizable to themselves and perhaps open to the same possibilities they'd have written off not a month before.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Travel
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Travel, for me, is a little bit like being in love because suddenly, all your senses are at the setting marked 'on.' Suddenly, you're alert to the secret patterns of the world.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Travel
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I suppose even when I was growing up, I noticed I was most happy when I was absorbed in something, lost in the moment and forgot the time, whether was conversation, movie, or a game I was playing. That was my definition of happiness. And I was least happy when I was all over the place, distracted and restless.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Happiness
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In the past, I've visited remote places - North Korea, Ethiopia, Easter Island - partly as a way to visit remote states of mind: remote parts of myself that I wouldn't ordinarily explore.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Easter
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Contractions, 'U' for 'you' and the like are wonderful to make communication brief and efficient - but we wouldn't want all our talk to be only brief and efficient. Taking pauses out of language would be like taking the net away from a tennis game. Where would all the fun go?
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Communication
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Where you come from now is much less important than where you're going. More and more of us are rooted in the future or the present tense as much as in the past. And home, we know, is not just the place where you happen to be born. It's the place where you become yourself.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Future
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American dreams are strongest in the hearts of those who have seen America only in their dreams.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Dreams
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I've never meditated in my life. I don't practice yoga nor any religion. I'm a tourist on the realm of stillness.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Religion
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I sometimes think that so much of our life takes place inside our heads - in memory or imagination or interpretation or speculation - that if I really want to change my life, I might best begin by changing my mind.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Imagination
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I can still remember the afternoon, on my 15th birthday, when I opened up 'The Virgin and the Gypsy,' D.H. Lawrence's novella, in my tiny cell in boarding school, and whole worlds of possibility opened out that I had never guessed existed. The language was on fire and sang of liberation.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Birthday
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Movement is a fantastic privilege... but it ultimately only has meaning if you have a home to go back to.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Home
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In Japan, I live in a little neighborhood in the middle of nowhere. I don't have a bicycle or a car or anything, so my only movement is within the boundaries of my feet. I feel there's a need for that kind of conscientious objection to the momentum of the world.
- Pico Iyer
Collection: Car
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All of us are feeling scattered and distracted as we try to keep up with an accelerating world. But nearly all of us have an answer in our hands, in simply choosing to do nothing and go nowhere for a while.
- Pico Iyer
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In Vancouver, in Sydney and in Orange County, we live among fluorescent stores and streets so brightly lit that you can read a book after dark; in other places across our global body, there are blackouts and curfews every night.
- Pico Iyer
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A single Dallas Cowboys football game uses up as much electricity as the entire nation of Liberia in those same three hours - one reason the globe, if looked at from a certain height, is a cluster of lights surrounded by enormous patches of dark.
- Pico Iyer
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Something in us is telling us we're moving too fast, at a pace dictated by machines rather than by anything human, and that unless we take conscious measures, we'll permanently be out of breath.
- Pico Iyer
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More and more of us feel like emergency-room physicians, permanently on call, required to heal ourselves but unable to find the prescription for all the clutter on our desk.
- Pico Iyer
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It's only by taking myself away from clutter and distraction that I can begin to hear something out of earshot and recall that listening is much more invigorating than giving voice to all the thoughts and prejudices that anyway keep me company twenty-four hours a day.
- Pico Iyer
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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.
- Pico Iyer
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Though I knew that poverty certainly didn't buy happiness, I wasn't convinced that money did, either.
- Pico Iyer
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I'm no Buddhist monk, and I can't say I'm in love with renunciation in itself, or traveling an hour or more to print out an article I've written, or missing out on the N.B.A. Finals. But at some point, I decided that, for me at least, happiness arose out of all I didn't want or need, not all I did.
- Pico Iyer
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Not having a car gives me volumes not to think or worry about, and makes walks around the neighborhood a daily adventure.
- Pico Iyer
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I think the world is always going to be as diverse as it always has been.
- Pico Iyer
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The recipe to an unhappy life in Japan is to want to be Japanese if you are not. Anyone who wants to penetrate the country is setting themselves up for tears and disappointment.
- Pico Iyer
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Japan functions on the basis of everyone sharing certain assumptions, where each person knows his part in a larger whole. The foreigner sits outside and is threatening. If he comes in, that's the most threatening of all.
- Pico Iyer
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A writer is a palmist, reading the lines of the planet.
- Pico Iyer
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We can't change the world except insofar as we change the way we look at the world - and, in fact, any one of us can make that change, in any direction, at any moment.
- Pico Iyer
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I write - though perhaps it sounds pretentious to say so - to make a clearing in the wilderness, to find out what I care about and what exactly to make of it.
- Pico Iyer
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The power of affinity lies in its mystery: the way it stands outside everything logical; you step into a crowded room and see a stranger, and somehow you feel you know her better than you know the friends you came with.
- Pico Iyer
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I couldn't follow the events of September 11 because I was proofreading a novel I'd just completed - on Islam and its quarrel with the West - that I'd promised, six months earlier, to deliver to my editor on September 12, 2001.
- Pico Iyer
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Writing reminds you of how much there is in your life that stands outside your explanations. In that way, it's almost a journey into faith and doubt at once.
- Pico Iyer
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Alas, those six unfortunate souls who have made their way through my books know that every one of them is about Emerson and Thoreau and their dark counters, Melville and Emily Dickinson. Try as I might, I can't get their inspirations, their challenges and sentences and wisdom and questions out of my head.
- Pico Iyer
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Abjure all accretions and turn off the lights. Put on some music - Leonard Cohen, say, perhaps his 'Various Positions' - and let your mind cool down. Soon you'll forget there's a word called 'stress.'
- Pico Iyer
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I think of myself as living so much outside borders or old categories that I choose as my leaders U2, the Dalai Lama, Vaclav Havel, Sigur Ros, Desmond Tutu, Barack Obama, and the girl next door. By definition, in short, my leaders are the ones who think in terms larger, and more intimate, than any country.
- Pico Iyer
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If I was a parent or a kid, I would need a cell phone, and those things are invaluable, but my kids are out of the house now, and I am thrilled when I wake up to not have a cell phone, and feel like today is stretching out in front of me for 1,000 hours, as it seems.
- Pico Iyer
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There are literally Internet rescue camps in China and Korea to deal with children that are addicted. Internet disorder is maybe going to count as a psychiatric disorder in a couple of years.
- Pico Iyer
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In financial terms, my sense is that the distribution of wealth, unequal as it is, is self-perpetuating, and, especially in a linked and accelerating world, the rich get ever more quickly richer while the poor get ever more speedily poorer.
- Pico Iyer
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I think it's in human nature to want to have more, to compete with the other and, at some level, to be dissatisfied if someone else has more than you.
- Pico Iyer
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The poverty one still sees in America today is more shocking to me than anything I have seen in Ethiopia or Calcutta or Manila, and has made me, as someone living in a society of great wealth and someone who's never had to worry about the next meal, think seriously about what universal responsibility really means.
- Pico Iyer
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Older boys were allowed to beat younger ones at my 15th-century English boarding school, and every boy had to run a five-mile annual steeplechase through the sludge and rain of an October day, as horses do. We wrote poems in dead languages and recited the Lord's Prayer in Latin every Sunday night.
- Pico Iyer
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For centuries, Cuba's greatest resource has been its people.
- Pico Iyer
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For more and more of us, home has really less to do with a piece of soil than, you could say, with a piece of soul. If somebody suddenly asks me, 'Where's your home?' I think about my sweetheart or my closest friends or the songs that travel with me wherever I happen to be.
- Pico Iyer
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Hello Kitty will never speak.
- Pico Iyer