how to be happy when your heart is breaking
happiness and the city

stop wanting and start being

 

be positively you 


As I was sifting through my childhood journals recently I came across a poem of sorts that my cousin gave to me years ago. I'm not sure exactly who wrote it (I have "Oriah Mountain Dreamer" written beneath the title which is a bit cryptic at best), but apparently it's called "The Invitation." Re-reading it, I remembered just why I wrote it down. It has such a great, positive, true message behind it. Here, read for yourself:


"The Invitation"

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 desire.

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 the fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with your pain -- mine or ours --
without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy -- mine or ours --
and if you can dance with the wildness and let the ecstasy
fill you to the tips of your fingertips 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 is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint others 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,
and if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure and still stand at the edge
of the lake and shout to the silver 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, and do what needs to be done.

It doesn't interest me who you are or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand with me at the center
of the fire and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what you 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.

 

Isn't that so interesting and, honestly, amazing? Of course it was probably meant to be written toward a significant other, but I believe it can be used in any relationship with anyone. When I read it, I begin to think, "What is it that I want to know about the people in my life? What is it that matters to me most?" Another thing that came to mind was how bloggers, and anyone who uses social media online, "meet" new people all of the time yet don't really know anything about them. I have what I call "online friends," but I don't know any of these people really. I don't know what they do for a living, how much money they make, or what they really look like. All I know is what they write here in the comments section and what they write on their own blogs (if they have them). Yet I feel like I know them better than some of the people in my office -- people I could tell you a lot about like how much they make, what they look like, how many kids they have, what kind of car they drive. So, after thinking about it, I came up with a big question mark in my mind, above which was written, "What really matter most when it comes to knowing someone else?"

Another important question that be coming to your mind right now as a reader is, "Why does it matter?" It matters because we are in the habit of getting to know people, or thinking that we know people, or wanting to know people. Knowing someone is a way for us to connect with others, but it's not always as straightforward as being able to pick someone out of a lineup. For example, I know most people I work with, but do I really know them? A few of them, yes, but not more than that. The rest of them, though their faces are known, are virtually unknown. However, I know a lot of people online, but do I really know them? I certainly couldn't pick them out of a crowd, but do I know what some of their inner most thoughts are? Do I know their hopes and dreams? Do I know, to some degree, that they know me? (Another question that comes to mind is: How much does someone else knowing you affect how much you know them?)

Today I have a lot of questions, questions about knowing. As "The Invitation" says above, I want to know those who are of good character, who can celebrate joy and deal with pain and be alone with themselves because they love themselves. Do I know these people? Yes. Do I know only these people? I'm not so sure. Surrounding ourselves with people who are good for us (and this, of course, will vary from person to person) is so important. I almost want to pass out that poem to all of my family, friends, and say, "Here. This is what I want in my life. This is what I deserve. And this is what you deserve too." We all deserve to be surrounded by people who are strong, people who are supportive. And what's one of the best ways to do that? To make sure you are all of those things. I'm going to flip the poem around a bit and see what it looks like when I change from what I want from others to what I myself can be.

 


"The Invitation" (Revised)

I know what I ache for and I dare to dream of meeting my heart's desire.

I will risk looking like a fool for love, for my dream, for the adventure of being alive.

I have touched the center of my own sorrow, and I have been opened by life's betrayals.

I can sit with pain -- mine or ours -- without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I can be with joy -- mine or ours -- and can dance with the wildness and let the ecstasy fill me to the tips of my fingertips and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
 
I can disappoint others to be true to myself, I can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray my own soul,
and I can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I can see beauty even when it is not pretty, and I can source your own life from its presence.

I can live with failure and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver moon, "Yes!"

I can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised, and do what needs to be done.

I will stand with you at the center of the fire and not shrink back.

I know what sustains me from the inside when all else falls away.

I can be alone with myself and I truly like the company I keep in the empty moments.

 

When I think about it that way, I think about things differently. Of course we're going to want things from others -- how could we not? -- but we should first think what we want for ourselves. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, all of the things mentioned above. However, I want to be. I would love to be all of those things and I believe that someday I will. But for now I will work on them. I will recognize that I want to find these things in others and, therefore, must have them within myself. Amidst all of the questions and the drawn out sentences of this post, I think it comes down to one key thing: change the "I want" to the "I am." When it comes down to it, you can't expect to get things you're not giving out. If you want something in someone else -- kindness, strength, happiness, whatever -- you have to be that thing yourself. You have to change that "I want" into "I am." You have to be instead of just want. It sounds hard and it sounds like it might not necessarily work, but give it a try. If you work on the qualities you want from others in yourself, you might be surprised by how quickly you start seeing those qualities in people around you.

 

Is there anything that you want others to be that you're not?
Is there anything you're asking for from others that you're not giving them in return?
What do you think of "The Invitation"? Like me, do you want those things for yourself too?

Comments

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Dani,

First of all, that poem at the beginning is beautiful. I really loved it. These lines in your post stuck out to me the most...

"If you want something in someone else -- kindness, strength, happiness, whatever -- you have to be that thing yourself. You have to change that 'I want' into 'I am.'"

This is SO true! In many ways, we get what we give. If we want love, we need to give love. If we want kindness, we need to give kindness. Call it karma, or whatever...but everything we put out there eventually gets returned to us.

Thanks for the great post!

Dayne

I think this is a lovely poem, one of those that makes us think about ourselves and those around us. And what you said it true. I just listed this quote, "Be the change you wish to see in the world", (Gandhi) early in response to request from Naturally Nina for the quotes that inspire you. And your thoughts are running along the same lines.

Last winter I realised that I was unhappy with my life, with no time for myself and constantly dancing to someone elses tune. Once I had that realisation and made the time to be happy and to say no occasionally I found the world reflected back on me in a nicer way. When I gave myself the support I needed I found others were much more likely to do the same. I recommend people try it.

Thanks for this post - it was very good to read.

Genki

Dani, your posts just keep getting better and better! I really liked your your RSVP, as it were, to the Invitation!

The words that stuck out for me the most from what you've written today are "you can't expect to get things you're not giving out. If you want something in someone else -- kindness, strength, happiness, whatever -- you have to be that thing yourself." It's so true! And never more so when it comes to loving ourselves. I found that when I starting putting myself first and meeting my needs as a priority, I was never more motivated to be kind and generous to other people, because by loving myself I felt more able to give love to others, without feeling resentful or like I was missing out all the time. And all of a sudden the people in my world were loving and generous in return.

I heard a recipe for happiness a long time ago - "decide what you want, and then live like you've already got it".

Hope you're having a lovely day! xx

Great post as always Dani.I think there is alot to be said for being instead of wanting. I had a friend once who told me "stop wanting to be it and just be it." Interesting idea for being the person you want to be. Your use of song lyrics and poetry is really awesome in every post you write :)

Wow, that poem is hauntingly beautiful. Every line gave me chills, partially as a reminder of who I am, and partially as a reminder of who I should be. Thanks for sharing it.

By the way, a quick google search showed that Oriah Mountain Dreamer is an author. She has a book called "What We Ache For" that looks really good on her site. I'm gonna check it out. Here's her site:
http://www.oriahmountaindreamer.com/

Excellent post! I absolutely love that poem. I agree entirely with what you've said, how can you expect things from others but not from yourself? It makes me think about one of my brothers, he's a sweet individual, but he expects so much from the people around him and nothing from himself. I hope that one day he'll reach the point where he stops simply wanting, and instead starts soul-searching (but if I try to tell him anything, he gets upset with me).

Dayne - I really loved the poem too! It's really very moving. I'm glad you liked what I wrote. I really do believe that we get what we give. It sounds so cliche, but it really is true.

Genki - You're right, the poem really ties in with that Gandhi quote. Like you, I was very unhappy before I realized that I had to become the person I wanted to be. No one else was going to make me happier. I had to do it. Now that I'm realizing that and working on creating a happier life for myself things are a lot better!

Green Ink - Thank you! :) You put a big smile on my face! I really do believe that when I put into the world what I want to get from the world, I get it back. It's hard to do sometimes, but it really does work. I love that recipe for happiness that you mentioned. That's great!

Srinivas - Thanks! I'm so glad you like what I did with the post. I definitely think your friend's quote is a great one. We could all benefit a lot from that wise advice!

TJ - Isn't it great!? I was so happy when I recently uncovered it in one of my old journals. Thanks so much for looking up the author. I'm going to check out her site and her book too. I never even thought to Google it. Great idea!

Ia - Sometimes it's very hard for people to understand that they have to put out into the world what they want to get back. I know it's been a hard thing for me to understand for years and years and years. Luckily I'm starting to realize it more and more everyday. Hopefully your brother will do the same soon!

The thing that stands out for me is it's along the lines of unconditional love, along with being special, just for being you. It's a reminder that some people start off feeling special, then get jaded by the world. Others, learn to eventually feel special. Others never get to feel special ... and yet it always starts with how you feel. You get to own it.

I've lived and am living your revised poem. (And how beautiful both versions are!)

I'm not sure if I've said it here, but I've said it everywhere else (including my own blog!) to find the love and the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I had to become that love and that person. (Thank you Ghandi!)

Thank you for such a great post Dani!

I am striving for what you wrote in the "revised" Invitation. It will take a while I think to become that person.

J.D. - You're so right. You get to own it. I love that! It's so true. You can be what you want to be, but it's completely up to you.

Peggy - That's wonderful! :) It's so true that in order to find the person you want to be with, you have to be that person. It's not always an easy thing to do but you are living proof that it works!

Syd - Like you, I'm still a work in progress, but, hey, at least we both know what we're striving for even if it does take awhile!

This has been a real life-changing summer from me. Before summer, I always wanted my friends to realize the person am without really ever showing them. I would talk a lot, but never do anything. But when my friends did the same thing, I would call them out.

I understand now that I wanted to back up my words with action, but I wanted my friends to prove they could do it first.

Great post, Dani.

Great post! There are so many people out for what they can get. I like surrounding myself with other positive, caring, and giving people. I believe we are all a work in progress and should strive to be our best selves -- to work on our inner self. Take care, A.

John - It sounds like you know just what I was getting at with this post. We cannot expect others to be a certain way if we aren't that way ourselves. It's hard to realize this, but it's so very true. Thank you! :)

Anita - Thanks! You're so right. If we spend time working on our inner selves, working to be the best we can be, we'll be putting a better self out into the world and, in turn, will be surrounded by all of the great qualities we've been cultivating in ourselves.

This is wonderful! I love how you turned it around, into being the things that you desire. Love it!

Dani it's amazing how you come up with this stuff! I love both the original which I consider very beautiful and your rewrite which is a wonderful and positive turnaround. I also totally agree with the "I am" approach. Thank you!

I love this post and am going to write on it!! Thank you!

Dani,
This post resonates so deeply with me. I understand so well about knowing people online, sometimes way better than most of the people I work with. For me, there's something about writing that is very freeing. And so much easier sometimes to find those people who I feel I can really relate to. In fact, I say it's one of the great things about the Internet - that it shrinks the world down. And Web 2.0 leads into really connecting with the people you relate to. And there's something deeply meaningful in all of that for me.

And I love this poem. And the way you've rearranged it is so affirming. This is a wonderful post today Dani. And it's one that shows that true beauty within you shining out onto the world!

Jay - Thank you! As I was writing the post the idea came to me and I'm glad it did. :)

Stephen - Haha, you should see my notebooks. Filled and filled with all sorts of scribbles and quotes and ideas! If only I had more time! I'm so glad you liked reading both versions.

The Exception - How wonderful! :) I'm so glad this post inspired you!

Lance - Thank you! :) I'm so glad you liked the post and could relate to it. It's so interesting how we know some of our online buddies better than we know the people that are around us all day, isn't it? I'm really working hard to be the things I wrote about above and I'm glad that some of my true nature is shining through in the post!

What an amazing poem! The title of this post hits home. :)

That's a great poem. LOVE it! And yes, I do want those things for myself too.

One thing I've noticed as I've gotten older is my desire for deeper conversations. I find inspiration when discussing with someone else their hopes, dreams, obstacles they've overcome, lessons they've learnt, etc, etc. Talking about the weather, their job and their latest possession really doesn't do it for me anymore because as the poem suggests, they aren't important to me.

Thanks Dani, great post.

I have always LOVED that poem. Thank you for sharing this...there is something about the words that me a little every time I read it.

*heal me a little

:)

Hi Dani
I love the message of this post. You know what it is a lot like my model for life. My message for living is all about not wanting and start taking action, and it works the same way when it comes to finding happiness. Great job! :-)
Thanks for sharing.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

I am happy to have stumbled upon your blog and this post!
I love the title: "The Invitation", it sounds warm & gentle, yet the verses are a bit of a "slap" to the ego.

Dayne,

Do you believe in karma? If so do you consciosuly think about karma before you do anything?

Meream - So glad you liked it. I was so happy when I came across it in one of my old journals. It was so delightful to read it and learn from it!

Sami - You've made a great point. It's so much more valuable to connect with others on a deeper level than to talk about mundane, typical things.

Hayden - I'm so glad you've heard of the poem before. It's such a great one and I love what you wrote about it healing you.

Giovanna - That's wonderful that you're doing what you can to live your life as the poem implies. That's so great and we really could all benefit from trying to live our lives that way.

Leaf - I'm so glad that you found the blog as well. :) I do believe our egos, at times, need a bit of nudging in the right direction and I think this is just the poem to do that.

Jonathan - Thanks for commenting. I'm not sure if Dayne will read your questions, but I think they're great, very interesting questions.

Ghandi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world" and I think this article embodies it. It's very true that you can't expect people to do something that you yourself aren't willing to do..
-Sylvia

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