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A traveler’s guide to finding paradise (and why it may be in it)

Jonathan Bastian talks to author and travel writer Pico Iyer about his 48 years of travel and his latest book, The Half-Known Life: In Search of Paradise. Iyer shares his most memorable stories from Iran, Japan, India, and California, and explains why it’s good to be humbled by experience and the world.

“The more we can recognize how much is beyond our reach, the richer we will be,” says Iyer. “That’s why we turn to religious figures, whether it’s Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama or Thoreau, in their own way. All of them have due deference to the vastness of the world that they cannot hope to control.

An avid traveler, Iyer maintains that only we can truly experience the colors, sounds, and smells of another place firsthand, but that traveling doesn’t necessarily have to be exotic to leave an impression.

“You don’t have to go far to be transformed. Traveling is a shortcut to be knocked down and suddenly opened. But you can experience that in your hometown or even within your home,” she says. “So it’s not an essential part of your life, but if someone told me I could go to Saudi Arabia next week, I’d be on the next plane because I love it and I don’t feel like I can do it. know a lot about it from a distance.


In “The Known Half Life”, author Pico Iyer travels the world and spiritual sites to seek the nature of paradise.

The search for and meaning of paradise has been a lifelong curiosity for Iyer, whether at the Isfahan Mosque, a temple in Kyoto, or the Indian city of Varanasi, he sees paradise in devotion and tranquility, and also in chaos and death. .

“Don’t look beyond the future for paradise, it’s right here,” he says. “Embracing the world means recognizing that we have to find our paradise, if we are ever going to find it, right here in the midst of real life and also, I was thinking during the pandemic, in the face of death. . Paradise cannot exclude death, shadows, imperfection.”

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