August 2, 2006

The Invitation

Exactly 4 years ago (it reads '8/02' beside my signature on the first page), I stumbled upon a little treasure of a book while browsing the shelves of Waterstones. I think it was the author's name that caught my attention at first or maybe the verses written on the cover. When I read the poem on the first 2 pages, which provides the framework for the book of the same title, I was hooked. I almost read the entire paperback right there without paying for it.

Here is the poem in its entirety. I will let it inspire you as it did me:

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
be realistic
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 meto 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 doneto 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.


Mila Tan said...

I especially like the last stanza.

christine said...

That is the exact stanza that has resonated in my mind since and which I find myself quoting to others sometimes. Maybe it's because it is the last line that it left the most lasting impression, but I think I found it to be the most powerful.

Mila Tan said...

It's the kind of person we all want to be, and who we seek. Someone with whom we can be quiet and yet not be alone.

Travelin' Tracy said...

I really liked this poem. It is quite thought provoking. I felt that it tugged at me, trying to tear down walls that I have created...just as I know some man will try to tear down those walls someday. Hmph, that was very nice!

christine said...

Mila, exactly. We need to like that person in the mirror before we can expect anyone else to. :)

Hi Tracy, it is indeed thought-provoking and honest. It's nice to read often as a reminder, and yes I know what you mean about it trying to tear down walls. I'm glad you liked it.

joey said...

Very moving...I also like the last stanza very much. It has struck a vein in me because I realize it so perfectly describes what I learned when I was living love the company I keep when I am alone :) And I now I really do...and it's amazing!

christine said...

Amen, jojo! :)

travel plaza said...

Amazing poem, Christine! I was so moved reading it. Like a lot of you, the last stanza struck a chord with me too. Thanks so much for sharing.

christine said...

You're most welcome! I'm happy it touched you too. :)

Knittymommy said...

That was very cool. It reminded me of how we Filipinos are, always asking the question of who we all know, what school we all went to, who brought us here, etc. Always trying to find some sort of commonality between ourselves, and yet, the commonality we seek is at times very superficial. There's so much more to all of us.

Thanks Nens. I really liked that one.

christine said...

Hi Mieke, that's really a Filipino thing no? Even I'm guilty of that! I think it's fascinating though that if you try hard enough (or even if you don't) you will to make a connection. It's more like a 3 degrees of separation , rather than 6 degrees majority of the time.

But you're right, I think it fills a deeper need to connect at a more grassroots level, where we all just have these basic desires as stated by the poem.

nunu'smum said...

Hi Christine! Thanks for your comment on my blog!She really is a sweetie! I hope you don't mind me 'borrowing' this poem, it is soooo inspiring! I'm totally hooked, I'll be buying the book online tonight!

christine said...

Hi nunu'smum! So nice to see you here. Of course you can borrow it, even if it's not mine to lend! I'm happy you found it inspiring also. :) My gosh, your daugther, if and when I do get pregnant, can I make "lihi" to her?

Randi said...

We put this on our wedding program. I've always loved it. We also had another quote by Rumi.