An Invitation to Explore

This particular line from the poem, “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer,  Canadian writer and teacher, resonated for me this week.

“I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.”

I recently noticed that I’ve made a frequent habit of putting my needs second to the needs of loved ones. Sometimes that is exactly the right thing for me to do, and I do it gladly.  Other times, not so much.  Being aware of my motivation and identifying what is true for me – expressing and honoring it – has released a great deal of resentment from my life. Frankly, I think my loved ones are benefiting.  Even though it’s not always easy to recognize and change a behavior pattern, it is possible, and it can be very empowering.

I love that every time I hear “The Invitation” a different stanza or line will feel particularly meaningful for me, depending on what is happening in my life.   To that end, I invite you to read this well-known poem and explore what resonates for you.  Enjoy.

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,

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 Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

You can learn more about Oriah Mountain Dreamer, and sign up for her blog at her site .


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Date: Thursday, 22. September 2011 19:37
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