Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Invitation

Namaste, Tachileik Shwedagon Pagoda - Golden Triangle City, Union of Myanmar, November 2005, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/400 sec @ f4.5, ISO 64, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

This lady was sitting outside a large Pagoda just over the border of Northern Thailand (into what used to be called Burma). She was very friendly, and when I asked to take her picture, she put her hands together as if to say "Namaste". I've chosen this picture for an entry entitled "The Invitation".

Why? Because every day you will interact with people in one way or another. And each time you do, you are offered "The Invitation". This is your opportunity to express yourself and to find out about the other person. And when you do, I hope you take "The Invitation" seriously, and bring gentleness and depth to your interaction -- offering something soulful about yourself, and hopefully getting the same in return.

You've probably read this poem, I suspect. As I understand the story, it was written after Oriah Mountain Dreamer attended a typical dinner party, and felt the conversation was just too superficial (do you ever feel that way?)

Here it is, reprinted in full, as it is to me, very moving and very important:
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 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, to be realistic, 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; if you can be faithless and therefore 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 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 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.


Pat said...

You know, when I read this the for the first time earlier today, my first thought was, "There really are others out there like me!". Imagine. I need to get out more…
Yes, very moving, she puts the spirit in the words, and reminds us of what's important.

Steven Crisp said...

Yes, it is amazing how quickly she disrobes our superficiality. So that we are, in the words of the song Torn, "lying naked on the floor."

I had seen this poem before -- I guess a spontaneous gift of the 'net, after she first sent it out to her writing students, and, well, you understand.

It just captures that spark buried deeply in all of us -- but only a few seem aware of it. Those few chose to forward it further, and now we all can have it to ponder.

Or better to find that spot of our facade that is torn and tattered just a bit, and apply this poem like a balm. Hope its healing properties can penetrate our everyday bodies and touch our soul, and perhaps ...

allow us to "stand in the center of the fire ... and not shrink back," and then move to "the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes!'"

Pat said...

Could you elaborate on the song "Torn?" I don't know of it.

Do you wonder why so few are aware of the spark? What transpires in a person's life that makes them sensitive to that spark - and other's not? I ponder this frequently.

Steven Crisp said...

In retrospect, the song Torn doesn't really get at all the feelings I was going for -- I just love that line (and the song). You can google the lyrics of the song: Torn by Natalie Imbruglia.

I too ponder the "spark" often. I'm so grateful to have it inside of me, but this isn't by conscious act -- it just materialized. My theory is that we all have it buried deep inside under layers and layers of conditioning. It is perhaps part of our "genetic code". But many of us never notice its subtle call.

Two other songs that, to me, explain why, are Grand Illusion by Styx, and Learn to be Still by the Eagles. Google those along with the word "lyrics" and you can see what I mean.

And there is nothing more important -- from my vantage point -- than for each of us to find that spark.

Honeybee said...

What a great story/poem! I had not seen it before and I am glad you shared it. I was just at a function that I had to leave after an hour. Every conversation seemed empty and left me sad. I knew I could not be around it any longer. What joy to know there are several others who feel the same.

Steven Crisp said...

Honeybee, sounds like we need to start our own club, and throw ourselves a dinner party. But then, not sure the significant others would really care to partke in the same manner. It is an intersting gift. Or some might say curse.

Here's to a future dinner party that really gets you to open your soul. Cheers!

Astrea said...

I've never read that before. It's good.

Never heard of the author before either, but I just Googled her. =)

I like:

"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 be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments."

Regarding superficial and meaningless conversations...

Now I remember why it's so hard to find friends who are more like me.

Steven Crisp said...


Just keep nurturing that spark -- that lights the fire, and burns up superficial and meaningless conversations.

Make yourself and others go deeper.

Some will get angry; others will be grateful; and then you will know with whom to spend your quality time.