Before I share the poem, though, I wanted to provide some background on how it came to be written, which should have a familiar aroma for everyone.
From the Author:
“In the spring of 1994, I went to a party – an ordinary party – and I made an effort, a real effort, to be sociable. I asked and answered the usual questions:
What do you do for a living? How do you know the host?
Where did you study? Where do you live?
And I came home with the familiar hollow feeling of having gone through the motions.
So, I sat down and did what I often do to sort out what is going on…I wrote. Using the format of a writing exercise that had been given to me by poet David Whyte I wrote about the party conversations – what really did not interest me and what I really did want to know about others, about myself. I went to the centre of the ache for something more between myself and the world and “The Invitation” poured onto the page.“
Here is the poem – definitely worth a read:
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, 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 faithful and therefore be trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty everyday, and if you can source your life 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 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.