These Days of Awe

These Days of Awe

Again, it’s Rosh Hashana. The start of the 10-day period when faithful Jews make good with the world.

If you believe in such things, we have 10 days—until sundown on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement—to potentially alter God’s decree.

By now, she has written our names in one of her books:

Who shall live and who shall die.

Who shall boom and who shall bust.

Whose sails shall fill and whose shall slacken.

Of course, we might already be inscribed for good fortune. But she likes to keep us guessing.

Because only through teshuvah (repentance), tefilah (prayer) and tzedakah (charity), can we be our best selves.

I guess that’s why these days ahead are known as the Days of Awe. It’s awesome to do the right thing. For ourselves and for our fellows.

Last year, I wrote about how the High Holiday season sharpened my focus. Having just started my business—as a writer of stories of impact and purpose—I vowed to look beyond my goals of signing clients and making a living wage.

But today, I’m thinking about AWE.

Merriam Webster defines awe as “an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime.”

I get the wonder. And I’m down with sublime.

But I can’t identify with dread. Especially when it’s imposed by figures of authority.

Hasn’t this whole year been about beating back my fears?

And finding a kinder, gentler way to hold myself—and others—accountable?

In this story at, UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner says that “brief doses of awe move us from a model of self-interest to really being engaged in the interests of others.” Awe “starts to break down this us-versus-them thinking.”

Over the past year, I’ve spent more time in awe—and more time alone—than ever before. I’ve also connected more deeply with the greater good.

True to my promise, I dedicated time to pro bono work. I committed to a meditation practice and opened my heart in new ways.

And I shared my stories, hoping to inspire others to feel brave.

Looking ahead to the Jewish year 5779, I have a new wish:

May these Days of Awe last all year.

Awe is the choke in my throat when I wake in my tent and see stars.

Awe is the yellow of the aspens in the fall.

And awe is knowing that in the space between doing something and doing nothing at all, there is a path forward.

How about we go there?


Stories are history

Stories are history

My labor of love

My labor of love