The Invitation / "Why is it that those of us who are unattached fixate on our attraction to the people that appear in our line of vision, rather than our attraction to the experiences that we crave?"

I had a thought-provoking conversation with my most recent ex about his most recent ex this weekend. He was grappling with the vulnerability and raw longing that’s par for the course after a break-up, and doing the whole “should I or shouldn’t I call/text/email her?” dance. Two questions arose for me, as a result of that talk. First, why is it that so many of us choose to engage in the daunting task of salvaging a platonic relationship from the debris of a failed romance? Is it really possible to build a mentally and emotionally healthy and sustainable friendship with someone with whom you’ve shared then severed an intensely intimate connection? Secondly, and more relevant to this post and to the dialogue with said ex, why is it that those of us who are unattached fixate on our attraction to the people that appear in our line of vision, rather than our attraction to the experiences that we crave? How can we so quickly forget that the thing(s) we want may not appear before us constructed and packaged in expected ways? Would you recognize your soul’s desire if the Universe delivered him/her to you here and now? Do you really, truly know what you want, and more importantly, are you ready -- in word and deed -- to receive and nurture it?

I don’t know that I have solid answers to all of the questions above -- my responses depend on the day, the time, the weather, the get the picture. But I do know that whenever I find myself thrown off center by Cupid’s fervid energy -- or pining in a fantasy about a particular person -- I reach for the poem below, by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. I read it over and over again, forcing myself to focus on the what, rather than the who. I read it until I’m steady enough to regain my balance and strong enough to, once again, think with my heart.

The Invitation
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 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 centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled 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, be realistic, 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 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 at 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 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 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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