The moment I read the title of Pico Iyer’s new book — The Half Known Life: In Search of Paradise — I was hooked.
Yet, the more I read about people’s pursuits, the more I began to question the notion of paradise.
“The struggle of your life is your paradise.” — Eido Roshi
Pico’s life offers him an intimate understanding of the nature of human longing; Both as a lifelong traveler and a writer who lives in a small town in Japan and often stays at a monastery. So, I was curious…
What are our souls longing for when they cry out for home, as the Sufis write? Do we ever get there? And, if not, where do we go?
“It’s the longing for paradise that gets in the way of paradise and prevents us from seeing it,” he shares. “When you step into a temple in Kyoto, there's often a Japanese sentence written on the ground that means: Look beneath your feet.
In other words, this is paradise. Don't look into the future. This is the paradise we have to discover and make.”
In our conversation, Pico awakens us to the countless opportunities we have to do so. His invitations offer us freedom from distraction, as he describes, reminding us of our agency in a highly stimulating world.