full transcript

From the Ted Talk by Pico Iyer: The art of stillness

Unscramble the Blue Letters

And of course, this is what wise beings through the centuries from every tradition have been telling us. It's an old idea. More than 2,000 years ago, the stcios were reminding us it's not our experience that makes our levis, it's what we do with it. Imagine a hurricane suddenly speews through your town and reduces every last thing to rbulbe. One man is traumatized for life. But another, maybe even his brother, almost feels liberated, and decides this is a great chance to sartt his life anew. It's exactly the same event, but radically different responses. There is nothing either good or bad, as Shakespeare told us in "Hamlet," but thinking makes it so. And this has certainly been my experience as a traveler. Twenty-four years ago I took the most mind-bending trip across North Korea. But the trip lasted a few days. What I've done with it sitting still, going back to it in my head, trying to understand it, finding a plcae for it in my tnkinihg, that's lasted 24 years already and will probably last a lifetime. The trip, in other words, gave me some amazing sights, but it's only sitting still that allows me to turn those into lasting isnhtgis. And I sometimes think that so much of our life takes place inside our heads, in memory or imagination or interpretation or splioateucn, that if I really want to change my life I might best begin by chinagng my mind. Again, none of this is new; that's why Shakespeare and the Stoics were tlnelig us this centuries ago, but Shakespeare never had to face 200 emails in a day. (Laughter) The Stoics, as far as I know, were not on Facebook. We all know that in our on-demand lives, one of the things that's most on demand is ourselves. Wherever we are, any time of night or day, our bsoess, junk-mailers, our parents can get to us. Sociologists have actually found that in recent years Americans are working fewer horus than 50 yreas ago, but we feel as if we're woiknrg more. We have more and more time-saving devices, but sometimes, it seems, less and less time. We can more and more easily make contact with people on the furthest crnores of the planet, but sometimes in that process we lose contact with ourselves. And one of my biggest surprises as a traveler has been to find that often it's exactly the people who have most enabled us to get anywhere who are intent on going nowhere. In other words, precisely those begnis who have created the teecgniholos that override so many of the litims of old, are the ones wisest about the need for limits, even when it comes to technology. I once went to the Google headquarters and I saw all the things many of you have heard about; the ioondr tree houses, the trampolines, workers at that time enjoying 20 percent of their paid time free so that they could just let their imaginations go wandering. But what impressed me even more was that as I was waiting for my dgtaiil I.D., one Googler was telling me about the program that he was about to start to teach the many, many Googlers who practice yoga to become trainers in it, and the other Googler was telling me about the book that he was about to write on the inner search egnine, and the ways in which science has empirically swhon that sntiitg still, or meditation, can lead not just to better htelah or to clearer thinking, but even to emotional intelligence. I have another friend in slcioin Valley who is really one of the most eloquent spokesmen for the latest technologies, and in fact was one of the furendos of wierd magazine, Kevin klely. And kvien wrote his last book on fresh technologies without a smartphone or a laptop or a TV in his home. And like many in Silicon Valley, he tries really hard to observe what they call an Internet sabbath, whereby for 24 or 48 hours every week they go completely offline in order to gather the sense of direction and potiroropn they'll need when they go online again. The one thing perhaps that technology hasn't always given us is a sense of how to make the wisset use of technology. And when you speak of the sabbath, look at the Ten Commandments — there's only one word there for which the adjective "holy" is used, and that's the Sabbath. I pick up the Jewish holy book of the Torah — its longest chapter, it's on the Sabbath. And we all know that it's really one of our gresaett luxuries, the empty scape. In many a pceie of muisc, it's the pause or the rest that gives the piece its beauty and its sahpe. 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.

Open Cloze

And of course, this is what wise beings through the centuries from every tradition have been telling us. It's an old idea. More than 2,000 years ago, the ______ were reminding us it's not our experience that makes our _____, it's what we do with it. Imagine a hurricane suddenly ______ through your town and reduces every last thing to ______. One man is traumatized for life. But another, maybe even his brother, almost feels liberated, and decides this is a great chance to _____ his life anew. It's exactly the same event, but radically different responses. There is nothing either good or bad, as Shakespeare told us in "Hamlet," but thinking makes it so. And this has certainly been my experience as a traveler. Twenty-four years ago I took the most mind-bending trip across North Korea. But the trip lasted a few days. What I've done with it sitting still, going back to it in my head, trying to understand it, finding a _____ for it in my ________, that's lasted 24 years already and will probably last a lifetime. The trip, in other words, gave me some amazing sights, but it's only sitting still that allows me to turn those into lasting ________. And I sometimes think that so much of our life takes place inside our heads, in memory or imagination or interpretation or ___________, that if I really want to change my life I might best begin by ________ my mind. Again, none of this is new; that's why Shakespeare and the Stoics were _______ us this centuries ago, but Shakespeare never had to face 200 emails in a day. (Laughter) The Stoics, as far as I know, were not on Facebook. We all know that in our on-demand lives, one of the things that's most on demand is ourselves. Wherever we are, any time of night or day, our ______, junk-mailers, our parents can get to us. Sociologists have actually found that in recent years Americans are working fewer _____ than 50 _____ ago, but we feel as if we're _______ more. We have more and more time-saving devices, but sometimes, it seems, less and less time. We can more and more easily make contact with people on the furthest _______ of the planet, but sometimes in that process we lose contact with ourselves. And one of my biggest surprises as a traveler has been to find that often it's exactly the people who have most enabled us to get anywhere who are intent on going nowhere. In other words, precisely those ______ who have created the ____________ that override so many of the ______ of old, are the ones wisest about the need for limits, even when it comes to technology. I once went to the Google headquarters and I saw all the things many of you have heard about; the ______ tree houses, the trampolines, workers at that time enjoying 20 percent of their paid time free so that they could just let their imaginations go wandering. But what impressed me even more was that as I was waiting for my _______ I.D., one Googler was telling me about the program that he was about to start to teach the many, many Googlers who practice yoga to become trainers in it, and the other Googler was telling me about the book that he was about to write on the inner search ______, and the ways in which science has empirically _____ that _______ still, or meditation, can lead not just to better ______ or to clearer thinking, but even to emotional intelligence. I have another friend in _______ Valley who is really one of the most eloquent spokesmen for the latest technologies, and in fact was one of the ________ of _____ magazine, Kevin _____. And _____ wrote his last book on fresh technologies without a smartphone or a laptop or a TV in his home. And like many in Silicon Valley, he tries really hard to observe what they call an Internet sabbath, whereby for 24 or 48 hours every week they go completely offline in order to gather the sense of direction and __________ they'll need when they go online again. The one thing perhaps that technology hasn't always given us is a sense of how to make the ______ use of technology. And when you speak of the sabbath, look at the Ten Commandments — there's only one word there for which the adjective "holy" is used, and that's the Sabbath. I pick up the Jewish holy book of the Torah — its longest chapter, it's on the Sabbath. And we all know that it's really one of our ________ luxuries, the empty _____. In many a _____ of _____, it's the pause or the rest that gives the piece its beauty and its _____. 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.

Solution

  1. stoics
  2. working
  3. bosses
  4. kelly
  5. wisest
  6. thinking
  7. corners
  8. space
  9. proportion
  10. insights
  11. digital
  12. silicon
  13. kevin
  14. piece
  15. shown
  16. founders
  17. wired
  18. years
  19. engine
  20. rubble
  21. speculation
  22. indoor
  23. sitting
  24. hours
  25. sweeps
  26. place
  27. beings
  28. health
  29. technologies
  30. changing
  31. lives
  32. greatest
  33. limits
  34. music
  35. start
  36. telling
  37. shape

Original Text

And of course, this is what wise beings through the centuries from every tradition have been telling us. It's an old idea. More than 2,000 years ago, the Stoics were reminding us it's not our experience that makes our lives, it's what we do with it. Imagine a hurricane suddenly sweeps through your town and reduces every last thing to rubble. One man is traumatized for life. But another, maybe even his brother, almost feels liberated, and decides this is a great chance to start his life anew. It's exactly the same event, but radically different responses. There is nothing either good or bad, as Shakespeare told us in "Hamlet," but thinking makes it so. And this has certainly been my experience as a traveler. Twenty-four years ago I took the most mind-bending trip across North Korea. But the trip lasted a few days. What I've done with it sitting still, going back to it in my head, trying to understand it, finding a place for it in my thinking, that's lasted 24 years already and will probably last a lifetime. The trip, in other words, gave me some amazing sights, but it's only sitting still that allows me to turn those into lasting insights. And 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. Again, none of this is new; that's why Shakespeare and the Stoics were telling us this centuries ago, but Shakespeare never had to face 200 emails in a day. (Laughter) The Stoics, as far as I know, were not on Facebook. We all know that in our on-demand lives, one of the things that's most on demand is ourselves. 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. We can more and more easily make contact with people on the furthest corners of the planet, but sometimes in that process we lose contact with ourselves. And one of my biggest surprises as a traveler has been to find that often it's exactly the people who have most enabled us to get anywhere who are intent on going nowhere. In other words, precisely those beings who have created the technologies that override so many of the limits of old, are the ones wisest about the need for limits, even when it comes to technology. I once went to the Google headquarters and I saw all the things many of you have heard about; the indoor tree houses, the trampolines, workers at that time enjoying 20 percent of their paid time free so that they could just let their imaginations go wandering. But what impressed me even more was that as I was waiting for my digital I.D., one Googler was telling me about the program that he was about to start to teach the many, many Googlers who practice yoga to become trainers in it, and the other Googler was telling me about the book that he was about to write on the inner search engine, and the ways in which science has empirically shown that sitting still, or meditation, can lead not just to better health or to clearer thinking, but even to emotional intelligence. I have another friend in Silicon Valley who is really one of the most eloquent spokesmen for the latest technologies, and in fact was one of the founders of Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly. And Kevin wrote his last book on fresh technologies without a smartphone or a laptop or a TV in his home. And like many in Silicon Valley, he tries really hard to observe what they call an Internet sabbath, whereby for 24 or 48 hours every week they go completely offline in order to gather the sense of direction and proportion they'll need when they go online again. The one thing perhaps that technology hasn't always given us is a sense of how to make the wisest use of technology. And when you speak of the sabbath, look at the Ten Commandments — there's only one word there for which the adjective "holy" is used, and that's the Sabbath. I pick up the Jewish holy book of the Torah — its longest chapter, it's on the Sabbath. And we all know that it's really one of our greatest luxuries, the empty space. 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.

Frequently Occurring Word Combinations

ngrams of length 2

collocation frequency
travel writer 2
empty space 2
cell phone 2

Important Words

  1. adjective
  2. amazing
  3. americans
  4. anew
  5. bad
  6. beauty
  7. beings
  8. biggest
  9. book
  10. bosses
  11. breathe
  12. brother
  13. call
  14. centuries
  15. chance
  16. change
  17. changing
  18. chapter
  19. clearer
  20. commandments
  21. complete
  22. completely
  23. contact
  24. corners
  25. created
  26. day
  27. days
  28. decides
  29. demand
  30. devices
  31. digital
  32. direction
  33. easily
  34. eloquent
  35. emails
  36. emotional
  37. empirically
  38. empty
  39. enabled
  40. engine
  41. enjoying
  42. event
  43. experience
  44. face
  45. facebook
  46. fact
  47. feel
  48. feels
  49. find
  50. finding
  51. founders
  52. free
  53. fresh
  54. friend
  55. furthest
  56. gather
  57. gave
  58. good
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  60. googler
  61. googlers
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  63. greatest
  64. hard
  65. head
  66. headquarters
  67. heads
  68. health
  69. heard
  70. holy
  71. home
  72. hours
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  74. hurricane
  75. idea
  76. imagination
  77. imaginations
  78. imagine
  79. impressed
  80. include
  81. indoor
  82. insights
  83. intelligence
  84. intent
  85. internet
  86. interpretation
  87. jewish
  88. kelly
  89. kevin
  90. korea
  91. laptop
  92. lasted
  93. lasting
  94. latest
  95. laughter
  96. lead
  97. liberated
  98. life
  99. lifetime
  100. limits
  101. lives
  102. longest
  103. lose
  104. lot
  105. luxuries
  106. magazine
  107. man
  108. meditation
  109. memory
  110. mind
  111. music
  112. night
  113. north
  114. observe
  115. offline
  116. online
  117. order
  118. override
  119. page
  120. paid
  121. parents
  122. pause
  123. people
  124. percent
  125. pick
  126. piece
  127. place
  128. planet
  129. practice
  130. precisely
  131. process
  132. program
  133. proportion
  134. radically
  135. reader
  136. reduces
  137. reminding
  138. responses
  139. rest
  140. room
  141. rubble
  142. sabbath
  143. science
  144. search
  145. sense
  146. sentences
  147. shakespeare
  148. shape
  149. shown
  150. sights
  151. silicon
  152. sitting
  153. smartphone
  154. sociologists
  155. space
  156. speak
  157. speculation
  158. spokesmen
  159. start
  160. stoics
  161. suddenly
  162. surprises
  163. sweeps
  164. takes
  165. teach
  166. technologies
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  168. telling
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  170. thinking
  171. thoughts
  172. time
  173. told
  174. torah
  175. town
  176. tradition
  177. trainers
  178. trampolines
  179. traumatized
  180. traveler
  181. tree
  182. trip
  183. turn
  184. tv
  185. understand
  186. valley
  187. waiting
  188. wandering
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  192. wise
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  194. word
  195. words
  196. workers
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  198. write
  199. writer
  200. wrote
  201. years
  202. yoga