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THE INVITATION

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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 center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled 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’s 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 on 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 center 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.

© Copyright 1999
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Comment by the poet:

<<The Invitation
I wrote the prose poem, The Invitation one night after returning home from a party. I don’t usually attend parties but on this occasion, berating myself for being anti‐social, I made an effort to go and be friendly. I returned home feeling frustrated, dissatisfied with the superficial level of the social interaction at the party. I longed for something else.

Years before I had attended a writing workshop where poet David Whyte had given us a writing exercise, based on a poem of his own, where we began alternate lines with the phrases, “It doesn’t interest me. . .” and “What I really want to know is. . .” Using this form I sat down and wrote The Invitation as an expression of all the things I really did want to know about and share with others. Several days later I included the poem in a newsletter I was sending to men and women who had come to do retreats and workshops with me. And from there, the poem took on a life of its own. People copied and shared it with friends and colleagues around the world, posting it on the internet, workplace bulletin boards and kitchen refrigerators. They read it at weddings and funerals, at conferences and gatherings in churches and boardrooms and universities. I began to hear from folks from all over the world‐from Romania, Iceland, South Africa, New Zealand, Russia and from all over the United States and Canada. I couldn’t believe how many people felt touched by the longing for deeper intimacy expressed in the poem.

As the poem changed hands a few individuals took it upon themselves to add or change some words. “Faithless” was changed by some to “faithful,” “beauty” to “God” and‐as I later found out‐a man in Chicago, sure that I was an aged or deceased Native American man, put “Indian elder” after my name. Where possible I made requests for folks to share the poem as it was written and tried to correct the misrepresentation of myself as an “Indian elder.” Although there are stories of Native American ancestors in my family history (along with stories of German and Scottish descent) I am neither old enough nor wise enough to claim to be an elder of any people.

In 1998, after being approached by Joe Durepos, a literary agent seeking permission to use the poem in a book by Jean Houston, I began to write the book, The Invitation, using each stanza as a structure to go more deeply into each of the desires expressed in the poem and offering meditations I had used to explore my own longing. As I write in the beginning of the book The Invitation is “. . . a declaration of intent, a map into the longing of the soul, the desire to live passionately, face‐to‐face with ourselves and skin‐to‐skin with the world.” It is the story of a very human woman who longs to live fully awake. It is the story of the human heart’s capacity and longing to live intimately with all of it‐the joy and the sorrow, the hope and the fear.

The Invitation was published by HarperONE, San Francisco in the spring of 1999. It became a best‐seller and has been translated into over fifteen languages around the world.>>
Last Updated ( Monday, 11 February 2013 22:33 )  

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