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Beyond The Small Talk / The Invitation

Excerpts from

The Invitation

By Oriah Mountain Dreamer


It doesn't interest me in 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 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. 

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.


Discussions of spirituality seem to follow me now wherever I go.  I am not complaining, Lord knows, because I asked to be where I am.  At this moment in time I can honestly say that I am living the life I was meant to live.

This past weekend our family traveled to Wyoming for my wife’s high school reunion.  Most of her family still lives there and it gave us an opportunity to visit with them also.  The reunion proved to be a wonderful experience as most of her classmates have stopped trying to impress each other and would rather spend time talking about what they have found to be important beyond creature comforts. 

As my brother-in-law and I wandered through the local bookstore and, as usual, I ended up in the area for religion, philosophy, and inspiration, I picked up a familiar book and read the opening lines.  The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer has striking similarities between its message and my own conversations at the reunion and with other friends and family.  My visits with just about everyone I come in contact with have changed over the past several months.  Some people know of my Awaken The Soul project while others haven’t a clue about this aspect of my life, yet our communication is on a different level than before.

One of my wife’s former classmates engaged me in conversation that quickly turned to family.  He shared things about his life that are typically reserved for the closest of friends.  He spoke of the suicide of his father when he was only seven and his two sons desire to change their names from his stepfather’s name back to his father’s.  There was a quiver in his voice as he talked about scattering his grandmother’s ashes on the family ranch.  Finally he talked about one of his sons showing his emotions more than most men and looked to me for reassurance.  This was quite a first encounter with this 6’3” cowboy.

This is happening wherever I go and with whomever I meet.  Like the opening words from the poem, without asking, people are sharing what’s in their hearts, not what they do.  It makes me wonder if I am somehow approaching people differently.  Whatever the origin, I am receiving from people a deeper look into their soul and they seem willing to accommodate.  I believe we can all experience this if we are willing to risk showing our true selves to others and then hear their soul and not just their words.

A great friend from my college days, Greg Petropoulos, e-mailed a copy of The Invitation thus keeping its tradition alive.  Oriah wrote this several years ago, posted it on the Internet and it has made its way all over the world.  She wrote a book by the same title that expands on this thought provoking poem.  I have posted the entire poem so you can read it in its entirety. The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

With respect, acceptance, and love,

R.D. Olson


© R.D. Olson and Awaken The Soul, 2001-2016

The Invitation Copyright Oriah Mountain Dreamer 1999; Published by Harper San Francisco