But Do You Really Know Them?

The last thing I want to do right now is write this blog. It has been one of the hardest weeks of my life, and I just want to curl up under my favorite blanket and disappear. But, WordPress has a feature where you can see the search terms that bring people to your blog. This week, my top search terms included, “quotes on girls r not everything”, “fucked up canadian quotes”, and most alarmingly of all, “thinspo 2012”, and “thinspo of beauty”. If there is a chance that the people searching for these things actually stop to read something I’ve written, and maybe find hope instead of self-destruction, I can’t, in good conscience, retreat when society needs us all to advance.

So here goes. It’s the last day of NEDA Awareness week. For those of you just joining us, this year’s theme is “Everybody Knows Somebody”. And while I can assure you that everyone, indeed, does know “somebody”, whether they know it or not, I heard something this week that made me wonder just how well anyone knows anyone.

Yoga teacher extraordinaire, again, read us this poem by a Canadian writer named Oriah.

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 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
to be realistic
to 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.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

I don’t know if I can even answer all these questions about myself, let alone anyone else. The first questions we ask people are, “What do you do?”, “Where are you from?”, “Where did you go to school?”, “Baby, what’s your sign?” Some of the people I hold nearest and dearest to me are out of work, or never went to school. Neither fact takes anything away from them as a person. Some of the best lessons I’ve learned have been outside a classroom, and I learned more about myself last year being alone and out of work than I ever did at any job.

Imagine what we’d learn if we asked the questions that mattered. Imagine if we introduced people with details like, “This is John. He has a passion for the moments between ‘sleep’ and ‘awake’, where he can be anything he wants to be.” John is infinitely more interesting in that context than if I introduced him as John, the chartered accountant. I’d want to know the passionate John.

I’m Kelly. I made a choice today to stare fear in the face and expose myself beyond what I thought I was capable of. Who are you?

Source: tumblr.com via Kelly on Pinterest

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5 Comments

Filed under Fighting Fear, Inspiration

5 responses to “But Do You Really Know Them?

  1. Wow, that’s powerful… Thanks for sharing.
    And I love the poem. My favorite part is this:
    “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.”

    Also, I’m very sorry that this week has been so terrible for you… I know that I don’t know you, but, I guess I just want to say, stay strong. You sound like a very brave person.

    • Thanks, Megan. I really like that part, too. Such a rare thing. I know I don’t know you either, but your support really means a lot. You sound pretty brave, too, judging by your writing. I’m a fan.

  2. Thank you for sharing this post Kelly. I love reading your work. Everybody knows somebody is right. I agree, you’re a brave woman. Keep writing.

  3. Reblogged this on Alone in the Childerness and commented:
    This is quickly becoming one of my most favorite blogs. I love Kelly’s courage. Her posts really speak to me.

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