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Conversation with Linda Commito: Love Is the New Currency

--Janis Daddona, on Nov 21, 2012

     Many of us grow weary and heartsick—if not hardened—by all the news of violence and greed that seems to infiltrate our lives. So it was for Linda Commito. And about three years ago in this state of discouragement she wondered where in the world she could travel to for some relief. It prompted her to ask a fellow guest at a dinner party, “Where would you go to escape all of this?” She was surprised when the response was not some island destination with travel tips. Instead the guest simply gestured to his heart. And with that gesture, something stirred in her own heart. Then during a meditation a few weeks later she very clearly she received a message: “Love is the new currency,” creating an even stronger desire to explore what these messages meant.
      Linda is passionate about connecting with people. She has done so in many guises over the years as an elementary school teacher, entrepreneur, facilitator, consultant, author, and speaker. And her book, Love Is the New Currency married that passion with the inspiration of that small gesture and her insightful meditation. She began to meet people and ask them what touched them, what they found meaningful in their lives, and how they might have made a difference in others’ lives. Their stories of were so moving that she wrote them down, ultimately turning them into this book.
     “Once someone shared their story with me I felt it was such a gift that there was no way I wouldn’t share it with others. And so writing the book seemed to be the best way to go about doing that,” Linda said. Of course, asking the right questions was part of that process as she learned along the way. Many were reluctant to share with her, feeling embarrassed by the attention. But as they came to realize, the very act of sharing those stories was inspirational to others. As Sheetal, one of the interviewers for this Forest Call, remarked, “If I ever doubt the Universe, this is one book I can pick up and know that everything is right.”
     For Linda this journey has been transformational. She now approaches people with more openness, prepared to believe that some amazing story dwells within them, regardless of what they may seem like on the outside. She learned this while witnessing a friend’s act of generosity one day. At a farmers market, a man clearly down on his luck and wheelchair bound was ranting at the crowd that they didn’t care. You can imagine such negativity would drive most people away from him. But for Rochelle, it was an opportunity for compassion. Linda observed her friend as she walked over to the man and engaged him in conversation for a while. His whole demeanor changed by the time they parted. A few months later, Linda saw him again with a sign reading “God loves you.” This gave Linda the courage to speak with him every time she met him since, and he is obviously gratified to have people now see and hear him as a whole human being, participating in the community at last.
     Even in challenging times, and we all have them, Linda writes three gratitudes daily, because “practice makes permanent.” She believes fervently that there is a purpose for every situation in her life. In once instance, she was in a long-distance relationship with a man who broke up with her when he picked her up at the airport. The experience was painful, and she wrote in her journal, “Thank you for the clarity I had been asking for in this relationship…but couldn’t you have waited a couple of weeks for this?” But not long after she had flown back home, she attended a party where she met a wonderful new man and realized how perfect the timing really was!
      Linda was also blessed to hear the story Walter shared with her. He received her book as a gift and was eager to meet her. His daughter arranged the visit. He was living in a retirement home, receiving hospice care when they met. As Walter reviewed the events of his life, he punctuated each memory with, “I’m so lucky!” Everything was beautiful and wondrous to him, even though this man also knew tragedy. His attitude inspired Linda to create a program for children called “I’m So Lucky” in which students in very challenging circumstances can still speak to what is good in their lives. She plans to publish a book about this next year.
     Additionally, she promotes other programs in schools serving underprivileged children. Here they are inspired to help others. In one story she related how an 11-year-old boy learned to make pillowcases from his grandmother and donated them to children in hospitals. The principal then asked if he’d help all the children in the school make fleece blankets to distribute. Although they were given the chance to decline, not one student opted out, so contagious was their enthusiasm for helping others despite their own misfortunes. Starting in January 2013, Linda will launch the Kindness Project for these children. She wants them to express something positive, and each week she will present a different theme for doing so. Stories like these create ripples, and we can never know for sure how far out those ripples reach, but as you can see they seem to be a catalyst for more and more gifts and acts of kindness.
     While generosity and kindness make the world go round, Linda pointed out it can be oh so difficult for us to receive a gift from another. And yet “without receivers, there can be no givers.” She told a story which emphasized this point. We need to be careful not to diminish the gift of others by trying to repay them. We can’t—and shouldn’t—balance things out all the time. Sometimes we just need to accept things with grace because our joy is then a gift of pleasure for the giver.
      Linda mentioned ways in which we could all participate in sharing gifts. Florida has The Commonwealth Time Bank (part of a movement called Time Banks USA) which allows people to share their service with others hour by hour rather than dollar for dollar. Benefit Corporations are offering a way to create value for communities and employees, not just shareholders, by competing to be the best for the world, not just in the world. And of course, visit Linda’s website Love Is the New Currency to participate in an online gratitude journal and share your own stories. Encourage your children to participate as well by submitting their stories and pictures!
     This conversation was a journey of hope for all of us who participated. Linda summed it up best when she said, “I don’t want to go to that island anymore. I want to stay here and be part of the shift and change toward positive consciousness.”