Sometimes things just resonate with you because it is so close to your personal truth. I got that reminder today and I needed it, as it is so easy to get upended and tumbled by life’s everyday challenges and the continuous ebb and flow of life.

The poem, “The invitation” by Oriah – Mountain Dreamer, one of my favourites, popped up as I was scrolling through social media today. It is something I posted several times before –  and as I am growing increasingly disinterested in Facebook and other social media platforms day by day, this filled me with a renewed appreciation about how everything in life is influenced by perspective, together with the notion of change. Today you are up, tomorrow you might be down again – but everything changes and passes, and in the end, it is all determined by our reactions, our own choices in life.

We all experience life in all its harshness and glory, yet the lenses we put on to interpret life’s flow influence our perspectives and reactions to what is happening around us.

And we might not always be right!

We all have been conditioned, put into a mold about how life is supposed to work and what is acceptable or not. We have been shaped by our own life experiences and carefully crafted mental models – it becomes our single truth about the world because this is how we know it, it is what experience taught us to expect. The lenses through which we view the world is informed by so many things. Our internal compass can be guided by race, gender, social standing, religion, or cultural beliefs and age-old tradition, just because that is how we were taught it must be. Being shaped by your surroundings and personal experiences are normal. This is how life works, but that does not mean that all of what we believe is watertight. It should be tested for relevance in the complex, grey world we live in today.

It is understandable that for some the world is viewed from a skeptical perspective, painfully tied to previous experiences of hurt and destruction. For others, this world view is informed by pressure and a predetermined assumption of materialistic performance in the workplace. A system created by men, and suddenly a whole life is devoted to a break-back rat race, linked to competition and achievement seen as the ultimate validation of who we are. A perception that somehow elevates the importance of those that have – and invalidates those that do not.

It is possibly safe to say that in an increasingly individualistic, money-driven, cold and selfish world, we have lost touch with what makes us human. Kindness, love and taking care of each other have taken the back seat.

I, for one, want to be reminded of my human propensity often, that I am because “we are” (the Ubuntu principle). I want to live my life being human, supportive and kind, genuinely interested in what I can mean to others, helping them on their journeys, lifting loads of their shoulders, wanting to know who they really are without the tainted lenses of what society or others want me to think! I want to be open to more possibility than my own beliefs only. I want to have the courage to go there, because few do – and I sometimes forget that. This is perhaps what gets to me when others do not operate from a place of kindness and consideration and I find myself growing increasingly less tolerant of that.

I had a big birthday celebration recently, and the first two verses of Oriah’s poem, “The Invitation” was placed at the entrance in a frame. I want to tie it to my heart with golden thread and let it fill my soul with light so that I am reminded of it more often. The words were:

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.

I copy the full poem below. I hope you find inspiration in it too, that it in Oriah’s words “lift your spirit, open your heart and offer you ways to see patterns and create meaning in your life”.

Lots of love. Hannah.

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 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 with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.”

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming, from the book The Invitation published by HarperONE, San Francisco, 1999

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