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 dreams, 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,
be realistic, or 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;
I want to know 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 life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours or mine,
and still stand on the edge of a 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 a night of grief and despair,
weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for 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.
I have sent you my invitation,
the note inscribed on the palm of my hand by the fire of living.
Don't jump up and shout, "Yes, this is what I want! Let's do it!"
Just stand up quietly and dance with me.
Show me how you follow your deepest desires,
spiralling down into the ache within the ache.
And I will show you how I reach inward and open outward
to feel the kiss of the Mystery, sweet lips on my own, everyday.
Don't tell me you want to hold the whole world in your heart.
Show me how you turn away from making another wrong without
abandoning yourself when you are hurt and afraid of being unloved.
Tell me a story of who you are,
And see who I am in the stories I am living.
And together we will remember that each of us always has a choice.
Don't tell me how wonderful things will be . . . some day.
Show me you can risk being completely at peace,
truly OK with the way things are right now in this moment,
and again in the next and the next and the next. . .
I have heard enough warrior stories of heroic daring.
Tell me how you crumble when you hit the wall,
the place you cannot go beyond by the strength of your own will.
What carries you to the other side of that wall,
to the fragile beauty of your own humanness?
And after we have shown each other how we have set and kept the
clear, healthy boundaries that help us live side by side with each other,
let us risk remembering that we never stop silently loving
those we once loved out loud.
Take me to the places on the earth that teach you how to dance,
the places where you can risk letting the world break your heart.
And I will take you to the places where the earth beneath my feet
and the stars overhead make my heart whole again and again.
Show me how you take care of business
without letting business determine who you are.
When the children are fed but still the voices within and around us
shout that soul's desires have too high a price,
let us remind each other that it is never about the money.
Show me how you offer to your people and the world
the stories and the songs you want our children's children to remember,
and I will show you how I struggle
not to change the world, but to love it.
Sit beside me in long moments of shared solitude,
knowing both our absolute aloneness and our undeniable belonging.
Dance with me in the silence and in the sound of small daily words,
holding neither against me at the end of the day.
And when the sound of all the declarations of our sincerest
intentions has died away on the wind,
dance with me in the infinite pause before the next great inhale
of the breath that is breathing us all into being,
not filling the emptiness from the outside or from within.
Don't say, "Yes!"
Just take my hand and dance with me.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer
A note by the author:
While I am pleased that this piece, The Invitation, has spoken to many others and happy that it is being shared, I would ask that you honour the original by sharing it as it was written.
I am a teacher and writer living in Toronto with my two teenage sons. While my family history includes stories of Scottish, German and Native American descent, I am a Canadian woman, and not an "Indian elder" as has sometimes been reported, being neither old enough nor wise enough to claim the status of "elder" for any people. I have had the privilege of studying with and learning from the wisdom of Native American elders who gave me the medicine name, Mountain Dreamer.