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by Oriah Mountain Dreamer Indian Elder

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 center 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, or 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.
I want to know if you can be faithful
and therefore be trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty
even when it is not pretty every day,
and if you can source your life
from God's 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, "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 for the children.

It doesn't interest me who you are,
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.

After awhile you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining the
soul, And you learn that LOVE doesn't mean
security, And you begin to learn that kisses
aren't contracts And presents aren't
promises And you begin to accept your
defeats with your head up and your
eyes open with the grace of a woman,
not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads
On today, because tomorrow's ground
is too uncertain. And futures have
A way of falling down in midflight.
After awhile you learn that even
sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your own garden and
decorate your own soul, instead of
waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
That you really are strong,
And you learn and learn.
With every goodbye you learn...

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