Famous Quotes & Sayings

Pico Iyer Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Pico Iyer.

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I think at this point I only write books about questions I really want to figure out. They're indulgences, essentially. I think, 'What would I like to spend five years really thinking about? What could I gain from thinking about for five years?' — Pico Iyer

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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

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I loved the quiet places in Kyoto, the places that held the world within a windless moment. Inside the temples, Nature held her breath. All longing was put to sleep in the stillness, and all was distilled into a clean simplicity.
The smell of woodsmoke, the drift of incense; a procession of monks in black-and-gold robes, one of them giggling in a voice yet unbroken; a touch of autumn in the air, a sense of gathering rain. — Pico Iyer

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Suffering is a privilege. It moves us toward thinking of essential things and shakes us out of complacency. Calamity cracks you open, moves you to change your ways. — Pico Iyer

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Places have charisma, in short, as much as people do. — Pico Iyer

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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. You — Pico Iyer

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To step away from the world isn't to draw back; it's actually a way to tune in. — Pico Iyer

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The Dalai Lama, these days, encourages Westerners not to take up Buddhism, partly because he feels that our roots are deep in other traditions, and we should go deeper into our own traditions rather than just acquiring the surfaces of others. — Pico Iyer

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For citizens who think themselves puppets in the hands of their rulers, nothing is more satisfying than having rulers as puppets in their hands. — Pico Iyer

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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

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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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As soon as I'm on the road, I see, often palpably, that I know nothing at all, which is always a great liberation. — 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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A holy day, after all, is a day for considering everything you otherwise think too little about. — Pico Iyer

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A traveler is really not someone who crosses ground so much as someone who is always hungry for the next challenge and adventure. — Pico Iyer

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In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. — Pico Iyer

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Finding a sanctuary, a place apart from time, is not so different from finding a faith. — Pico Iyer

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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

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The more we run from a problem, the more we're actually running into it. — Pico Iyer

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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

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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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Perhaps the greatest danger of our global community is that the person in LA thinks he knows Cambodia because he's seen The Killing Fields on-screen, and the newcomer from Cambodia thinks he knows LA because he's seen City of Angels on video. — Pico Iyer

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Dalai Lama is transforming those criteria - and the whole way of conducting politics. He's conducting politics in a much deeper way than most politicians are able to. He's the only politician I know of who's a monk. The Pope, of course, is in a similar position, but the Pope isn't in the same way leading a country of many million people. — Pico Iyer

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Silence is something more than just a pause; it is that enchanted place where space is cleared and time is stayed and the horizon itself expands. In silence, we often say, we can hear ourselves think; but what is truer to say is that in silence we can hear ourselves not think ... In silence, we might better say, we can hear someone else think. — Pico Iyer

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Quitting, for me, means not giving up, but moving on; changing direction not because something doesn't agree with you, but because you don't agree with something. It's not a complaint, in other words, but a positive choice, and not a stop in one's journey, but a step in a better direction. Quitting-whether a job or a habit-means taking a turn so as to be sure you're still moving in the direction of your dreams. — Pico Iyer

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It wasn't the country, the girl, the teacher who let us down; it was our judgment, and whatever led us to expect too much of the country, the girl or the teacher in the first place. That was why it became harder and harder to condemn anyone: wouldn't God himself, faced with a wounded murderer, feel somewhat at a loss? — Pico Iyer

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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

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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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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

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You wind back the clock several decades when you visit a Lonely Place; and when you touch down, you half expect a cabin attendant to announce, We have now landed in Lonely Place's Down-at-Heels Airport, where the local time is 1943 and the temperature is ... frozen. — Pico Iyer

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But it's only by having some distance from the world that you can see it whole, and understand what you should be doing with it. — Pico Iyer

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This reticence has little to do with trying to protect oneself and everything to do with trying to protect others from one's problems, which shouldn't be theirs; it's one reason Japan is so confounding to foreigners, as its people faultlessly sparkle and attend to one another in in public, while often seeming passive and unconvinced of their ability to do anything decisive at home. — 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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Hello Kitty will never speak. — Pico Iyer

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Everyone is a Wordsworth in certain moods, and every traveler seeks out places that every traveler has missed. — Pico Iyer

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[The Dalai Lama] told me some years ago, "I've made every concession to China, and I've been as open and tolerant as I could, and still things get worse in Tibet." If you look at it from one point of view, as he himself says, his monastic position of forbearance and nonviolence hasn't reaped any benefits. And yet, he's thinking in terms of the long term, of centuries. — 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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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

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Dalai Lama was leading his country during the rigors of World War II, he was in Beijing for a year in 1954; he was up against Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai from the time that he was fifteen. So he's no newcomer or naive when it comes to politics. — Pico Iyer

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Greatest surprises I have encountered has been that the people who seem wisest about the necessity of placing limits on the newest technologies are, often, precisely the ones who helped develop those technologies, which have bulldozed over so many of the limits of old. The very people, in short, who have worked to speed up the world are the same ones most sensitive to the virtue of slowing down. — Pico Iyer

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Like teenagers, we appear to have gone from knowing nothing about the world to knowing too much all but overnight. — Pico Iyer

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In winter California became an older place, with secrets.

Nothing more distrusted in California than the impression of settledness.

That's what California is good for - dreaming of other places. — Pico Iyer

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The less conscious one is of being a writer, the better the writing. — Pico Iyer

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Travel is an act of humility — Pico Iyer

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Everywhere you turned, everything was happening, and everything that was happening took you away from all abstraction and into something human, where answers weren't so easy. — Pico Iyer

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In the two-room flat where I live in Japan, I try to take time every day to step away from the bombardment of e-mails and opportunities and papers around my desk, for an hour, and just sit on our 30-inch terrace in the sun, reading something sustaining, whether 'The Age of Innocence' or the latest by Colm Toibin. — Pico Iyer

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Even though more and more of his stories, as he went on, are set in autumn, one of the main occupations of his characters is to see how far they've come, or fallen rather, since the spring. Yet insofar as spring - youth - is visible, there's always the possibility of vicarious renewal or hopefulness, and the mixed feelings of seeing someone else's perhaps too-innocent illusions. — Pico Iyer

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In our appetite for gossip, we tend to gobble down everything before us, only to find, too late, that it is our ideals we have consumed, and we have not been enlarged by the feasts but only diminished. — Pico Iyer

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For centuries, Cuba's greatest resource has been its people. — Pico Iyer

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As Henry David Thoreau, one of the great explorers of his time, reminded himself in his journal, "It matters not where or how far you travel - the farther commonly the worse - but how much alive you are." Two — Pico Iyer

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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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I began thinking about why am I constructing almost a shadow father or ghost father in my head into Graham Greene in response to the father who created me? What's going on here? I think a part of my sense is it's every boy's story. When we are kids, we imagine that to define ourselves or to find ourselves means charting your own individuality, making your own destiny and actually running away from your parents and your home and what you grew up with. — Pico Iyer

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Many people would say that A Tibetan monk, even in Lhasa, may be free while the ruler of China may not be free. — Pico Iyer

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One curiosity of being a foreigner everywhere is that one finds oneself discerning Edens where the locals see only Purgatory. — Pico Iyer

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Lonely Places, then are the places that are not on international wavelengths, do not know how to carry themselves, are lost when it comes to visitors. They are shy, defensive, curious places; places that do not know how they are supposed to behave. — Pico Iyer

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Any school would gain, if the students began the day with meditation, cleared their heads and got themselves centered. — Pico Iyer

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One of the happier ironies of recent history is that even as Tibet is being wiped off the map in Tibet itself, here it is in California, in Switzerland, in Japan. All over the world, Tibetan Buddhism is now part of the neighborhood. In 1968, there were two Tibetan Buddhist centers in the West. By 2000, there were 40 in New York alone. — Pico Iyer

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The less you struggle with a problem, the more it's likely to solve itself. The less time you spend frantically running around, the more productive you are likely to be. — Pico Iyer

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You go into the dark to get away from what you know, and if you go far enough, you realize, suddenly, that you'll never really make it back into the light. — Pico Iyer

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I do think it's only by stopping movement that you can see where to go. And it's only by stepping out of your life and the world that you can see what you most deeply care about ... and find a home. — 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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More than any religious figure that I can think of, Dalai Lama goes out of his way to attend interfaith conferences; religious harmony is one of his urgent priorities in life. — Pico Iyer

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I would never call Jerusalem beautiful or comfortable or consoling. But there's something about it that you can't turn away from. — Pico Iyer

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The Dalai Lama says that when a Catholic and a Buddhist speak, the Buddhist becomes a deeper Buddhist and the Catholic becomes a deeper Catholic. — Pico Iyer

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What we have to do is act as clearly and with as pure motivation as is possible now, and that will sow the seeds for good action maybe in the twenty-second century. — Pico Iyer

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Travel spins us round in two ways at once: It shows us the sights and values and issues that we might ordinarily ignore; but it also, and more deeply, shows us all the parts of ourselves that might otherwise grow rusty. — Pico Iyer

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I think China's view of freedom has to do with material wealth and modernity, and the Dalai's Lama view of freedom is liberation in the Buddhist sense, which is freedom from ignorance and freedom from suffering. — Pico Iyer

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Families are so important here," I said. She looked surprised. "They are not everywhere? — Pico Iyer

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When love is a commodity, you wonder why anyone's giving it away for free. Or what the hidden costs might be. — Pico Iyer

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None of the things in life - like love or faith - was arrived at by thinking; indeed, one could almost define the things that mattered as the ones that came as suddenly as thunder. — Pico Iyer

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Wherever we are, any time of night or day, our bosses, junk-mailers, our parents can get to us. Sociologists have actually found that in recent years Americans are working fewer hours than 50 years ago, but we feel as if we're working more. We have more and more time-saving devices, but sometimes, it seems, less and less time. — Pico Iyer

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Anybody who travels knows that you're not really doing so in order to move around - you're traveling in order to be moved. And really what you're seeing is not just the Grand Canyon or the Great Wall but some moods or intimations or places inside yourself that you never ordinarily see when you're sleepwalking through your daily life. — Pico Iyer

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A writer is a palmist, reading the lines of the planet. — Pico Iyer

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Visiting a new town is like having a conversation. Places ask questions of you just as searchingly as you question them. And, as in any conversation, it helps to listen with an open mind, so you can be led somewhere unexpected. The more you leave assumptions at home, I've found, the better you can hear whatever it is that a destination is trying to say to you. — Pico Iyer

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Was it only through another that I could begin to get at myself? — Pico Iyer

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A lack of affiliation may mean a lack of accountability, and forming a sense of commitment can be hard without a sense of community. Displacement can encourage the wrong kinds of distance, and if the nationalism we see sparking up around the globe arises from too narrow and fixed a sense of loyalty, the internationalism that's coming to birth may reflect too roaming and undefined a sense of belonging. — 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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I suddenly realized I was racing around so much, I could never catch up with my life — Pico Iyer

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One could start just by taking a few minutes out of every day to sit quietly and do nothing, letting what moves one rise to the surface. One could take a few days out of every season to go on retreat or enjoy a long walk in the wilderness, recalling what lies deeper than the moment or the self. One could even, as Cohen was doing, try to find a life in which stage sets and performances disappear and one is reminded, at a level deeper than all words, how making a living and making a life sometimes point in opposite directions. The — Pico Iyer

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I would now put all my heart with the Tibetan people and the Tibetan cause, but not at the expense of the Chinese, and not say that Tibetans are good and Chinese are bad. And in my own life, I hope I would learn to be a little less full of right and wrongs, and a little more able to see everything as a potential right. — 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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The beauty of being foreign is that it snaps you awake. — Pico Iyer

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I would say that by virtue of transforming politics, [Dalai Lama] is in fact easily underestimated. — Pico Iyer

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You can continue your practice, you can exercise kindness, you can practice meditation whether you're in a prison or a millionaire's house, whether you're in India or Tibet. — Pico Iyer

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Almost everybody I know has this sense of overdosing on information and getting dizzy living at post-human speeds. — 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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And it's only by going nowhere - by sitting still or letting my mind relax - that I find that the thoughts that come to me unbidden are far fresher and more imaginative than the ones I consciously seek out. — Pico Iyer

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The central paradox of the machines that have made our lives so much brighter, quicker, longer and healthier is that they cannot teach us how to make the best use of them; the information revolution came without an instruction manual. — Pico Iyer

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Technology, in short, cannot teach me how to do without technology. — Pico Iyer

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We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. — Pico Iyer

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I remember how, in the corporate world, I always knew there was some higher position I could attain, which meant that, like Zeno's arrow, I was guaranteed never to arrive and always to remain dissatisfied. — Pico Iyer

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Irreverence, independent-mindedness and a hunger for far-off cultures have defined it {San Francisco} ever since people began streaming into the area in 1849 in search of new fortunes from gold, and a settlement of 812 souls became within two years a city of almost 25,000, many from China, Korea and Australia, clustered around more than 1,000 gambling houses. — Pico Iyer

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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. — Pico Iyer

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So travel for me is an act of discovery and of responsibility as well a grand adventure and a constant liberation. — Pico Iyer

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Travel is not really about leaving our homes, but leaving our habits. — Pico Iyer

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The open road is the school of doubt in which man learns faith in man. — Pico Iyer

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When you're hurrying around too quickly," he had said, "there's a part of the world you can't see. If, for example, you're taking a wrong direction in your life, it's only when you stop and look at things clearly that you can revise your direction and take a more proper course. Then message of Zen is that in order to find ourselves, we've got to learn to stop. — Pico Iyer

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'Globalization' has become the great tag phrase, but when we talk about it, it's nearly always in terms of the global marketplace or communications technology - either data or goods that are whizzing around. We forget that people are whizzing around more and more. On them, it takes a toll. — Pico Iyer

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A book doesn't have to be a literary classic, of course, to change us forever. — Pico Iyer

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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