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The Invitation -- Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Guest poem submitted independently by Reed C. Bowmanand Vidur:
(Poem #738) The Invitation
 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're 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 be 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 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 the 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 are, 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.
-- Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Sets a high standard, perhaps, but a more palatable one than most singles
ads... I don't know anything more about this poem or its author, but I think
it hardly needs comment.


I don't have much to offer in the form of a comment on the poem. I wonder if
it's just me -- but the poem almost immediately brings to mind one of my
other favourites, "If" by Ruryard Kipling. Just as with "If", each time I
read this, it says something new to me. I read it recently at an event to
generate awareness about the drought in Rajasthan, and it took on a whole
new meaning then, lending itself beautifully to the occasion.

Even though "If" is timeless, I think that the "Invitaion" has a more
contemporary feel to it, which perhaps makes it less didactic and more
pertinent. The unpretentious verse and bluntness in style is wonderful. I
think the poem struck a chord because living and working in Silicon Valley,
I'm surrounded by people that lead surprisingly insular lives. Much of what
she says in the poem I've reflected on in the past. It's a poem I would have
written, if I could write :)


More about the poet and the poem:
[broken link]

Similar poems on the Minstrels:
Poem #204, "The Vision of a Giant who Migrated from Baja to Tiburon Island"
Poem #344, "The Navajo Night Way Ceremony"
Poem #184, "Chief Seattle's Reply"

15 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Bhimani said...

I absolutely loved the poem. It gave me goose bumps thinking of how hopelessly
human i am. We all are possibly. Couldn't have read at a more appropriate
time. Like good poetry seeks you out at the time when you need it most,
minstrels brought me a poem that i like to believe was looking for me.

F. van Rhijn said...


Life isn't about keeping score.
It's not about how many friends you have
Or how accepted you are.
Not about if you have plans this weekend or if you're alone.
It isn't about who you're dating, who you used to date, how many people
you've dated, orif you haven't been with anyone at all.

It isn't about who you have kissed,
It's not about sex.
It isn't about who your family is or how much money they have
Or what kind of car you drive.
Or where you are sent to school.
It's not about how beautiful or ugly you are.
Or what clothes you wear, what shoes you have on, or what kind of music
you listen to.
It's not about if your hair is blonde, red, black, or brown
Or if your skin is too light or too dark.
Not about what grades you get, how smart you are, how smart everybody
else thinks you are, or how smart standardized tests say you are.

It's not about what clubs you're in or how good you are at "your" sport.

It's not about representing your whole being on a piece of paper and
seeing who will "accept the written you."


But, life is about who you love and who you hurt.
It's about who you make happy or unhappy purposefully.
It's about keeping or betraying trust.
It's about friendship, used as a sanctity or a weapon.
It's about what you say and mean, maybe hurtful, maybe heartening.
About starting rumors and contributing to petty gossip.
It's about what judgments you pass and why. And who your judgments are
spread to. It's about who you've ignored with full control and

It's about jealousy, fear, ignorance, and revenge.
It's about carrying inner hate and love, letting it grow, and spreading
But most of all, it's about using your life to touch or poison other
people's hearts in such a way that could have never occurred alone.
Only you choose the way those hearts are affected, and those choices are
what life's all about.

Ryan Fugger said...

This poem has been misquoted. Line 20 should not read "I want to know if
you can be faithful." It should read

"I want to know if you can be faithless."

This is a very important line of this important poem, and I hate to see it


Anna Wood said...

I am one of a group of high school English teachers seeking permission to use this poem in our Choices and Consequences unit. We have been unable to find the copyright information. Do you have the power to give us permission, or know of the correct person to contact for permission?

Thank you,

SpiritSoaring1 said...

I hope I find that in a guy. Peace, Brad.

qknox said...

unworthy though i think i am, i accept your invitation. let us shout 'yes'
to the moon, and dance with abandon, and then, get up in the morning to do
what must be done for the children and those we love.

thanks for the invitation. may your life be filled with acceptance and
more invitations.


Anonymous said...

Can someone help me understand the line "if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy" ?

I sent it to my friends and the very religious think what this is saying that those who ARE religiously faithfull are NOT TRUSTWORTHY.



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