RICH IN WHAT MATTERS

When you move from a place where beachfront homes cost more than many people earn in a lifetime

to a place where typical roadside scenery looks like this,

it often feels as though you've undergone a cultural labotomy.

I started believing in reincarnation the first time I rounded Nantucket's Brant Point on the ferry in 1988. The moment I laid eyes on the quintessential New England seaside village my heart began to race and continued to do so each time I pulled into the harbor from then on. The connection I felt to Nantucket was so intense I could only conclude I'd been there before in a past life.

I am now on Nantucket visiting my daughters. The tail end of summer is my favorite time on the island. Rounding the point last week, I stood on the deck of the ferry anticipating my usual thrill. I waited. I waited some more and then realized with astonishment that this reliably thrilling experience had changed. I curiously felt around my emotions to determine what in fact I was feeling, only to discover I wasn't feeling anything at all. My mind was absolutely vacant. I sniffed exhilarating sea air and gazed at weathered wood cottages but my heart continued to beat at its normal rate. Along came the looking-down-at-myself-from-somewhere-up-above phenomenon. I moved throught the next four days amazed by my neutrality.

We celebrated Saturday night's radiant Supermoon with a bonfire on the beach. There with my husband, three of our daughters, and two of our grandchildren, I was extremely grateful that I've learned to fully enjoy what is happening in the moment instead of worrying about how I'll feel when it has to end. Heading to the car after the last s'more had disappeared, I felt it. I lifted my eyes to the moon and said thank you for helping me feel again the wonder of Nantucket.

In many ways I'm a very practical person, but when it comes to major life decisions I bypass reason and go with what my heart is feeling. The fact that I followed my heart to Nantucket Island in 1996 and then never questioned it when it decided to move me to the middle of nowhere in Central America indicates I must be running on some sort of faith. The challenges we've encountered on our jungle adventure have led me to discover what it is I believe in: me. Like Dorothy with her ruby slippers, I never realized what I was searching for was right inside me all along. I humanly thought I needed a name for who or what I believed in. Now I know the minute you attach a name to "God," you've brought the ultimate holiness down to the level of human understanding and you lose a lot in the translation. My hard-earned understanding is that "God" is simply the nothingness from which all else manifests. "God" is the stillness to be found deep inside everyone, the thread that holds all of us together. All it takes to find it is to stop and listen to the peaceful silence as often as possible.

I couldn't figure that out myself. I did it with the help of Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now.

Two women walked up to our bonfire on the beach Saturday night to warm up a bit before heading to their car. My daughter Lizza introduced one of them as the woman whose house we stayed in several years ago.

"I'm so happy to finally be able to meet you so I can thank you!" I bubbled. "When I slept in your bed I picked up the book on your nightstand and it changed my life! Eckhart Tolle explained matters of the soul in a way I could understand. The Power of Now is my bible. I refer to it often."

"That's great!" the woman replied. "It's still on my nightstand. I guess I should read it."

We all laughed and rolled in the sand, enjoying the moment.

My love for Nantucket now runs much deeper than a thrill. My newfound capacity to love reaches from the mansions of Nantucket to the shacks of Javilla.