I first came across Oriah’s poem around 2001, after went through a particular challenging break-up. Circumstances meant I had to take my then baby and leave our home. It was a case of tough-love but the guilt that came with that decision was hard and heart-breaking. I found tremendous peace in these words.
At different times in my life, different verses or lines speak to me and help me through a challenge. They remind me that first and foremost we need to be true to ourselves and that can mean someone else will feel pain. Likewise, we should expect others in our lives to be true to themselves, even if it is painful for us.
Perhaps you too will find solace in a situation you are going through with these words.
The Invitation – by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
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
I want to know if you can
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
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
and if you truly like the company you keep
in the empty moments.
by Oriah from her book THE INVITATION. (c) 1999. Published by
HarperONE. All rights reserved. Presented with permission of the
Paulo Coelho wrote this on his Facebook page
“Don’t say “yes” if you want to say “no”. Don’t say “maybe” if you want to say “never”. You can’t hurt people with your decisions. We always want to please, but at the end we are hurting ourselves; it took me a lot of time to learn how to say “no”, but I finally managed”
I’ll leave you with this thought… It is a basic human right to be able to assert ourselves,to do what is right for us. When we say Yes to others, we essentially are saying No to ourselves.