My Now is new, all over again. I, like every person on the reading planet, have not stopped thinking about Pico Iyer's Opinion piece in the New York Times last weekend, "The Joy of Quiet". It's been tweeted and retweeted, posted on Facebook by stacks of friends. And yet for me it's overt message: turn off technology and become a human, already is NOT what resonates. Instead, the many gems Iyer includes, quotes from Thoreau and Marshall McLuhan, and Merton, and the monk David Stendl-Rast speak to the power of connection, not the call for ex-communication.
Granted, the piece is all about the pace at which stuff is coming at us - and it's voracious for sure. We're freaking out, as Iyer says, because "like teenagers, we appear to have gone from knowing nothing about the world to knowing too much, all but overnight." But there is something to do other than shriek and run away fast to escape the pace. Because isn't pace what we're judged for, as a nation and as individuals? Think what we're able to accomplish at a pace!
The last line of Iyer's article gets it for me, gets at the ways in which peace and quiet must coexist with technology, information and the flashing lights of our lives. Iyer meets a past acquaintance from his chosen escape, a few days at a Benedictine hermitage. The acquaintance seems very clear about the coexistence - his kids are his story board. In these last lines you see the guy's kids, they're running dirty and happy down a rough road in front of him, whipping it up as they hiatus, their time is free today. It's the moments, isn't it? Peace + Quiet are moments by design! And "the child of tomorrow may actually be ahead of us," Iyer notes, "in terms of sensing not what's new, but what's essential." May it be added that the child of tomorrow is - with the help of the pace, the techo-beeps and the info-floods - the innovator, the builder, the founder of the real New.
The New Now is back, and accompanied by the (constant) interruptions, beeps and diversions I look forward to the conversation about how we cope in the chasm.
Some of the quotes in Pico Iyer's article, the Joy of Quiet:
"When things come at you too fast, naturally you lose touch with yourself." Marshall McLuhan
"The man whose horse trots a mile in a minute does not carry the most important message." Henry David Thoreau
Joy is described by the monk David Stendl-Rast as "that kind of happiness that doesn't depend on what happens."