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  • As this year slows down, I feel the residue of years past surrounding me.

    A nagging and comforting feeling that I've been here before.

    But there's something else this time.

    You see, I've been on a journey.

    An awakening.

    I recently returned from 2 weeks in Italy- my first vacation since ListenIn started 2 years ago.

    At first, it was hard for me to be fully present. I felt guilty for being self indulgent. For my privilege.

    Heavy with the weight that Israeli attacks on Gaza were simultaneously killing dozens, including relatives of people that I know and care about.

    On my first day in Rome, in the Vatican Art Museum, I become bound for a moment with an ancient Roman relief depicting a vicious battle. Fear etched in the eyes of a woman made of stone. Children's bodies torn to pieces. Chaos.

    I felt the weight of the human story. The cycles of violence and oppression. Separation.

    I used to believe that I must maximize my impact on the world. I considered career tracks based on number of lives I could touch. I felt I wouldn't be able to die peacefully until I'd felt the weight of my life.

    But something happened to me in Italy. A moment changed me.

    It was my last morning in Florence.

    Small details were jumping out at me everywhere. The pull of gravity on a spherical dew drop. The shape of branches as they swayed back and forth.

    While walking, I discovered a church built in 1018. When I entered, the whole space was dark, except for 2 powerful streams of golden light pouring in through the side windows.

    I slowly walked around, enraptured with the space. Cool, varying hues of blue tile. Clusters of candles huddling in corners. Lions and demons painted in the rafters.

    All around me, the space felt pregnant with the stories of all the people who had come through in the past thousand years. I was not alone.

    A group of monks slowly walked into the church and gathered near the alter, where they began to chant.

    Inspired by the music, I stepped into the spot where one of the golden streams of light was hitting the ground.

    The light was completely overpowering, sending pulsing energy through my veins. I felt enveloped in the love of the universe. For a blissful moment, I was hovering in the glow around my body.

    A message came to me.

    Choose the path of love, not fear.

    A cloud passed over the sun and I saw the light retreat back into the sky.

    ------

    "Do you ever have the intuitive sense that you are going to live a very long life?" my friend Kate Otto casually asked me recently, while walking on a Sunday afternoon in Central Park.

    I thought about it for a second and answered, "No... I ride my bike every day in the city, I confront the possibility of death daily."

    With this admission, I felt something within me that I hadn't felt before.

    I realized that I no longer feel scared of death. No longer scared that if I were to die tomorrow, my life wouldn't have meant anything. Because if I were to die tomorrow, my energy would continue manifesting in the lives of others.

    My obsession with large scale impact has changed.

    It's not about the big, visible, tangible impact.

    It's about the tiny moments.

    Kindness. Connection. Love.

    Our daily actions create reverberations in the lives of all others, releasing ripples into the world.

    We are intimately bound to one another.

    I am because you are.

    Every day I push the first domino.

    My energy affects and interacts with every person who I come in contact with.

    Chain reactions- conversations, glances, smiles, gestures, tone.

    I am the result of an infinite number of small decisions made by millions of others.

    For me, this realization has changed everything.

    It means treating the daily as sacred. My momentary interactions as significant. Humans as miracles.

    It means ditching the never-ending promise of delayed gratification and choosing instead to be radically present for every moment I'm alive.

    I haven't abandoned my desire to do something big for humanity, but as I pursue that I goal, I don't want to lose sight of the love, beauty and vitality that are available in every moment.

    I want to change the world from the inside, out.

    Close your eyes, feel the light and let the love of the universe wash over you.
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