The Power of Emotion and Big Ideas

Brother David Steindl-Rast
Louie Schwartzberg's stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on gratitude (Filmed at TEDxSF.) He says:

You think that this is just another day in your life.

It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you. Today.

It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now.

And the only appropriate response is gratefulness.

If you do nothing else, but to cultivate that response to the great gift this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day of your life and your very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.

Begin by opening your eyes and be surprised that you have eyes to open. That incredible array of colors that is constantly offered to us for pure enjoyment.

Look at the sky. Really look at the sky. See how it is different from moment to moment – the clouds coming and going.

Just think of the weather. Even with the weather, we don’t think of the many nuances. We just think of good weather and bad weather. This day right now is unique weather. Maybe a kind that will never exactly come in that form again. The formation of clouds in the sky will never be the same as it is right now. Open your eyes, look at that.

Look at the faces of people that you meet. Each one has an incredible story behind their face. A story that your could never fully fathom. Not only their own story, but the story of their ancestors. They go back so far. And in this present moment, on this day, are the people you meet from many generations and from so many places in the world flows together and meets you here like a life-giving water if you only open your heart and drink.

Open your heart to the incredible gifts that civilization gives to us. You flip a switch, and there’s electric light, turn a faucet and there’s warm water, cold water, and drinkable water. It’s a gift that millions and millions will never experience.

These are just a few of an enormous number of gifts to which we can open our heart. So I wish you that you will open your heart to all these blessings, and let them flow through you. That everyone that you meet on this day will be blessed by you, just by your eyes, by your smile, by your touch. Just by your presence.

Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you.

Then it will really be a good day.

This video also serves as a powerful reminder of how emotion connects us in ways we cannot hope to achieve through rationality. Big ideas and consistent work — he spent thirty years spent working to get to this project — do net impressive results.

Mainstream conversations on content gravitate to utility and clever applications. Useful is not the same as compelling. Clever is a poor substitute for appropriate. Even meaning, as important as it is to relationships, is running the risk of becoming a fancy expression with little action to back it up.

Our rational selves have forgotten the power of emotion in creating experiences worth having. Emotion is the source of empathy, respect, and mindfulness from whence understanding is felt.

Schwartzberg's reminds us about the captivating force of inspiration, and the magic of storytelling.

OMG to him means: oh, the work caught attention, it makes one mindful; my, connects with something deep within your soul, creates a gateway for ways to rise up and be heard; God, the principal journey we want to be on, to feel like we are connected to a universe that celebrates life.


Last time I looked, his video of the 2011 talk on YouTube had 1,144 comments and 4.5 million views.

Invest 9 minutes of your time to watch the whole thing in full screen. It's a perfect reminder of the beauty of nature as we head into the holiday season, a time of reflection.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *