Pico Iyer has learned a lot from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the pandemic has taught many of us humility and reminded us of how much we are at the mercy of forces much larger than we are,” the acclaimed author said in a news release.
Mr. Iyer will discuss the pandemic further when he headlines the Heroes of Hospice of Santa Barbara at 6 p.m. today.
Presented by Hospice of Santa Barbara, the annual event honors community heroes. Mr. Iyer is the keynote speaker for the program, which is virtual this year because of COVID-19.
Tonight, Hospice of Santa Barbara will honor Steve Ortiz, president and CEO of the United Way of Santa Barbara County with the Philanthropy Award, Liliana Encinas and Jose Fierros with the Partnership Award, Zoomers to Bloomers with the Volunteer Award and Dr. Lynn Fitzgibbons with the Medical Award.
Mr. Iyer will present his talk, “The Open Door,” live from Japan during the free program. Registration is required; go to https:/bit.ly/2YqTUha or hospiceofsantabarbara.com.
“We are proud to have such an acclaimed speaker while keeping our tradition of honoring local Heroes to express our gratitude, on behalf of our community, for what they have done for all of us — particularly during these difficult past months,” said David Selberg, CEO of Hospice of Santa Barbara. “Our Heroes and speaker deserve recognition for being a positive force in many people’s lives during this time.”
Mr. Iyer’s talk will draw on his 46 years of talk with the Dalai Lama, 32 years of living in Japan and more than half a century of visiting Santa Barbara.
Mr. Iyer said in the news release that the coronavirus has reminded people of what they value the most, “what gives richness and meaning to our lives.”
“I’ve never known a time in my life when more people are more in awe of, and grateful for, those who choose to devote their lives to serving others, like those connected with hospice institutions. It’s underlined the fact that nothing is more central than compassion, and we’re only as strong as our ability to protect those around us.” said Mr. Iyer, author of “Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells” (Vintage Books, 2019). (His other books vary from “The Global Soul” to “The Lady and the Monk” and the bestselling “The Open Road,” which is about the Dalai Lama.)
Mr. Iyer, an essayist for TIME and a regular contributor to the New York Times, also said this year “has brought my attention every hour to blessings I might otherwise take for granted. I have a roof over my head, loved ones who are alive and in relatively good health and savings in the bank.
“I get to spend my days in very fortunate and protected places — Santa Barbara and Japan — and those around me have not been stripped of all prospects by the virus,” he said. “Most of all, this season has reminded me of the importance of gratitude and how much we have to be thankful for even in the most difficult of times.”