Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - The Invitation

I am still sort of getting my new home set up. I’m having a hard time getting myself entirely set up. I’m sure this is being brought on by some left over emotional fall-out from the fire. I suppose I’m scared and worried that all of this will just got up in smoke again, literally. On Friday night, after a very long tough week, I rounded the corner to my apartment building to find my street littered with fire trucks and flashing lights and big brawny fire fighters in their gas masks and black and yellow suits. Pre-September 5th, my first thought upon seeing this kind of scene was “I hope everyone is okay.” On Friday night, my first thought was “not again”. As Dinah Washington said, “What a difference a day makes.”

The fire on Friday wasn’t in my apartment building, it was across the street, and no one was hurt. I asked the fire fighters. I went upstairs to my apartment grateful that everything was still the exact way I left it Friday morning. Just inside my front door, there’s a piece of art that I read every morning. It’s a poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, an Indian Elder, which I wrote out many years ago in my nicest penmanship on fancy paper. It was one of the few things to survive my apartment building fire, and I am sure that is not a coincidence.

There are a few lines in this poem that have really effected me as of late:

Can you disappoint others to be true to yourself?

Can you stand in the centre of your sorrow and still shout at the great Silver Moon, “yes!”?

Do you like the company you keep in the empty moments?

Being true to yourself:

This can manifest in our careers, relationships to others, in how we spend our free time. It’s hard work to be true to ourselves, it’s tough for us to get over the guilt of what we think we owe to others. And too often we disappoint ourselves for the sake of others. In truth, we let people down even more when we aren’t authentic, when we feign happiness instead of actually being happy.

Stand in the centre of our sorrow:

Disappointments and sadness are a part of life. I’ve known people who deal with their sadness by using it as fuel for creating happiness. I consider all of my friends who have recently lost their jobs and used their job loss as an opportunity to do something they’ve always wanted to do. These are the people who shout “yes”, yes to the goodness of life, even if life at that very moment is not very good at all. These are the people who keep me feeling hopeful in times that seem so bleak. They are my inspiration.

Unfortunately, I’ve also known people who use their sadness and disappointment as a way to make themselves and everyone around them miserable. These are people who can’t commit, who can’t seem to build healthy relationships, and as a result feel constantly alone and disconnected. They stand in the middle of their sorrow and sulk. Temporary sulking is okay – we all need to sulk once in a while. We just can’t let it get the best of the us.

The empty moments:

Someone who smiles when no one around is a person who is truly happy. These are the people I want in my life, people who like their own company. My friend, Ken, is someone I look to as this example. Ken could spend all day in his house by himself and have the best day of his life. He is someone who loves the empty moments.

Below is Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s poem, The Invitation. I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me for so many years:

"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.

I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals.

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.

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 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, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes.'

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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