...in the age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.
I stumbled across one of Pico Iyer's TED talks which led me to his book, The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere. Here the globe-trotting author reflects on the notion of slowing down, taking a breath, and sitting still. (I am all for that.) Along the way, in these six brief chapters/essays on discovering the joys of spending time in silence and stillness, there are walk-on appearances by Leonard Cohen, Marcel Proust, Thomas Merton, Emily Dickinson, and Mahatma Gandhi. Not a bad cast of characters.
The book has fewer than seventy pages and it is easy enough to sit still long enough to read it in one go. To encourage the reader's meditative state, some calming landscape photos of Iceland taken by Eydis S. Luna Einarsdóttir separate each chapter.
You can hear Mr. Iyer's TED talk here.
Life is sometimes hard. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make Good Art. I'm serious.
Mr. Gaiman's Make Good Art address was given to the graduating class at Philadelphia's University of the Arts in 2012. In his speech/book, the author gives the reader a sense of what he has learned in his commitment to his Art which is writing. He admits that the closest thing he had to a career plan was a list he made at the age of fifteen of the things he wanted to do and then he set about doing them. To that end, he has penned novels, short stories, comics and graphic novels, and films. He suggests that in response to whatever life throws your way - failure, discouragement, hunger - the answer is always to make good art, and "leave the world more interesting for your being here."
Once again, this is a superbly short piece that can be enjoyed in one sitting. You can hear Mr. Gaiman's talk here.
If you find you need a bit of time to yourself to think about things and a nudge of encouragement to your Creative Self, these two books are sure to set you on your way.