It was 1999. Such a long time ago. Y2K loomed over us like the Mayan Calendar. I had just left my corporate job and returned to school to, as one professor put it, "chase a little piece of paper." I had not yet met my husband, so weekends when my oldest two daughters were at their dad's house were a time of solitude and introspection.
And wild partying.
During the moments of introspection, I would wonder what it was I should be doing. What was the life I should be living? How or when would I ever be really truly successful? Those days, I spent a lot of time at bookstores and coffee shops... pondering.
It was fabulously exciting, I swear.
On one particular day, I wandered into a bookstore to see if there were any books that were calling to me. Seriously. That's how I shopped for books. I think the booksellers thought I was trying to steal something the way I fingered the bindings, waiting for that feeling.
One book did call to me that day. You might say it invited me to read it. The book was aptly called "The Invitation," written by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.
Oriah. Mountain. Dreamer.
Coming from someone who adopted the name "Sugar," I immediately dug her name. The cover bore the first few lines of the poem the book was named after. Intrigued, I opened it up to read more. Inside was a testimonial from Dr. Wayne Dyer saying that Oriah's words "pierced my shell and pricked at my soul. An invitation to the ultimate dance." I had just discovered Dr. Dyer (you gotta love those all day PBS marathons) so I was sold.
Since that day, a lot has happened. I opened myself up to a different way of thinking, a different perspective on life and success. And then I closed up again out of fear. I went back to fitting in and people pleasing. But the book found me once more. There on the cover were the words. The Invitation. With a little more determination, I set out to live differently. Little by little, I worked at releasing conformity and became comfortable being my true self. And as it is with onions when you peel the layers away, there were lots of tears. And lots of goodbyes.
It was NOT easy. But it was worth it.
Someone posted a picture today. It was an open palm with the words, "They tell you to be yourself & then they judge you." I left a comment saying, "That's when you find other theys." I know "theys" isn't a word, but you get what I mean, right? That's what happens when you become your true self, which is probably the fear that holds us back from being who we really are. But the truth is, there are plenty of amazing people on the other side of your decision to change, waiting to accept the real you and cherish every quirky bit of you.
I want to share with you the poem that started me on my personal adventure of self discovery. The journey that came with many tears and goodbyes... and many new faces and more laughter and joy.
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 you 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 core, 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.
~Oriah Mountain Dreamer
I invite you to be... YOU.