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Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I want to share a poem that I did not write but that has showed up in my life at very specific moments and always reminds me of what’s truly important to me and what sits at my core. The first time I read it was in an English class in 11th grade surrounding the topic of identity. We all had the assignment by the end of the class to write a speech entitled “Who am I” with no further topic guidelines from our teacher than that. We were all a bit mind boggled and didn’t really know where to begin. Our teacher read us this poem as inspiration.

The second time I heard it was a few weeks before high school graduation when our high school guidance counselor of sorts came in and read it to us. I remember him saying something like “This will be important to keep in mind as you move through the world.”

The third time I read it was in the late fall of 2016 when I would spend my nights curled up with my best friend looking at cool gap year programs: we wanted to go somewhere together after he graduated in the spring of 2017. We found a year long program in Sweden based on initiative and global entrepreneurship. The application was a set of 3 essays, and the poem was the prompt for one of them. I took it as a sign.

And the 4th time I read it was a couple of weeks ago, when in a journaling session about where I want to move to next one of the lines came into my head, almost as a whisper. A reminder of a past emotion that hadn’t been touched on in a while: the love of the open road.

As I look forward into the next few months, it is hard to make plans with the state of the world as it is right now. Figuring out my next move is pretty low on the totem pole of human issues currently and yet, days pass and the end of my lease in Wisconsin grows nearer and nearer. I’ve always been a wanderer but some part of me has wished for stability, for roots. I grew up with them. With strong roots in a small town where every cashier at the grocery store knew my name, it was just as comforting as it was occasionally stifling, but I am grateful for it. Now more than ever I want to give into my wandering and travelling tendencies and see where the wide world can take me, but something is holding me back. Be that societal, familial, or my own expectations of myself, I am still figuring it out, but finding this poem again brought some clarity to my often cloudy head. I hope it brings you inspiration as well.

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

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 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,


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.

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