Here and Now #7: On stillness 🌾

“I felt in need of a great pilgrimage, so I sat still for three days.”
― Hafiz

Hi friend!

How are you? It’s great to be back in touch with you here.

Over the past decade as a writer and artist, I’ve come to love sharing my work with the world — whether it be the books I’ve worked on, the Sleep Stories I write for Calm, or the sketches I create, such as this one I painted over the weekend of the beautiful coastline and wild belladonna lilies here in Uruguay:

Today, however, I have something new to share with you that I’m feeling unusually nervous about — a podcast.

Last spring, soon after the pandemic hit, my good friend Mike Sowden reached out to me. Mike and I first crossed paths ten years ago in England, and although we’ve had a chance to meet up since then in places such as Dublin and Barcelona, our friendship has mostly taken place not in person, but on Skype calls.

And so it was that over Skype last May, Mike and I dove into a topic that all of us became intimately familiar with in 2020: stillness.

Mike had drawn up big plans for the year, full of travel and connection, but he was suddenly brought to a standstill by the coronavirus. I, on the other hand, found myself thinking back to various retreats I’ve crafted for myself over the years, in quite remote places, where my daily rhythms looked remarkably similar to what we now define as life in lockdown.

Here, a cozy yurt I once called home for three months on Canada’s Salt Spring Island:

But while it wasn’t unusual for Mike and I to be chatting on Skype, there was something different about our conversations on stillness last year:

We recorded them!

Mike then took our conversations, wove them into three podcast-style episodes, and uploaded them to SoundCloud. He also shared them on his new Substack newsletter Everything is Amazing, which I highly recommend.

This is a new kind of project for me, so I find myself a little hesitant to share it with you today. But I also love the ground we covered and the ideas we explored: from the definition of stillness I once discovered in Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel The Signature of All Things and have loved ever since, to the science of noise and why stillness isn’t only the absence of movement.

I so hope you enjoy having a listen, by clicking on the embedded audio links below.

NOTE: If you’re reading this as an email, clicking the audio buttons might send you through to the Web version of this article, where the audio will be playable. 

Episode One (28 minutes):

Episode Two (38 minutes):

Episode Three (31 minutes):

Another fun piece of news:

My new book, Stuff Every Coffee Lover Should Know, is out a week from today! It’s also published by Quirk Books, who I worked with last year on my book about tea, and it’s currently available for pre-order here:

Pre-order your copy here

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