When we meet …

 

solitudeGrandCanyon

 

THE INVITATION

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

 

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

 

By Oriah Mountain Dreamer from her book, THE INVITATION © 1999.
Published by HarperONE. All rights reserved.
Presented with permission of the author.
www.oriah.org



Categories: Writing

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6 replies

  1. To live our lives fully…
    Bratiful poem!

  2. Like so much poetry, and also many books, this appeals to the reader only within his/her own context. It is all too true, I think, that many fail to achieve a full range of passions and experience because of over-caution or lack of effort. But if viewed with skepticism, which is my nature, it could be sending a dangerous message. Ungoverned passion can lead to excess and injury. Looking back over my life I see that my reach often exceeded my grasp and the results were sometimes bad. I escaped tragedy only by luck several times. On the other hand, my experiences exceeding anything I could have imagined when I was young.

    The human condition and the situations we encounter are too complex to be limned by any poetic or prosaic prescription, but an appeal like this one may help the timid. Nothing is easy in life, but that’s what makes it interesting. In my opinion.

    • I’ve interpreted this in several different ways during different readings — as an appeal from one adventurous person to another, as a timid person hoping to meet a more adventurous person, as someone being deeply philosophical and wanting to meet someone with similar thoughts and feelings, and, with an illustration I almost used, as a woman peering into a mirror questioning herself. Ultimately I decided to choose an image more open to the reader’s own interpretation. I don’t see a literal appeal to dangerous excess but rather, an appeal to be more fully involved in life and aware of one’s innermost feelings. It brushes aside superficial considerations and looks instead for the inner being, the true self.

“I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.” ~ Cornel West

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