China by Bicycle :: April -- October '98

Subject: Just something beautiful...
Date: Fri, 04 Sep 1998 14:50:05 -0700

14:35 Some Main St. eatery, Liuyuan; Gansu--China :: FR 04 SEP 98

I've shared this with many of you before, but I'll share it again. Every so often someone writes to me about it, reminds of it. I like that. Most recently it was read at a wedding and many in attendance approached the reader later, asking to read it themselves, for a copy, or just to say how moved by it they were. So, here you are, a reminder, or an introduction to something beautiful.

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 dreams
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 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 ectasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
be realistic
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you're 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 faithful
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 on the edge of a 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 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
From Dreams of Desire (1995)
1995 by Oriah House. All Rights Reserved.
Published by Mountain Dreaming
300 Coxwell Avenue, Box 22546
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M4L 2A0

Also available in The Invitation
published by Harper/Collins


The Tao gives birth to One.
One gives birth to Two.
Two gives birth to Three.
Three gives birth to all things.

All things have their backs to the female
and stand facing the male.
When male and female combine,
all things achieve harmony.

Ordinary men hate solitude.
But the Master makes use of it,
embracing his aloneness, realizing
he is one with the whole universe.

  graphical element Attributed to Lao Tse
The Tao Te Ching
Chapter 42
trans. Stephen Mitchell