I feel like I’ve known Oriah’s The Invitation my whole adult life, but I know that she actually wrote it in 1994. I try to think back to what my life was like then–it feels like I was so young but really, I was in my early 40s. That’s young, right? Too young to understand what it means to live fully.
I remember how that piece exploded my heart with its honesty. How I pored over it time and time again, trying to glean every bit of meaning out of it as it related to my life.
I’d been divorced twice.
I was with a man I adored but for whom I had no romantic feelings.
I was working in Silicon Valley.
What exactly are we promised?
I was midway through my life and still seeking the passion I’d thought was promised. That was the longing that Oriah’s The Invitation spoke to.
I still love it. It still inspires.The book sits on a nearby shelf and I re-read it periodically because no matter where I am in my life, no matter what is going on, its wisdom resonates. That’s the beauty of true inspirational writing.
What The Invitation boils down to is simply this, in Oriah’s own explanation:
“…. life is full of beauty and pain; that the world will break your heart and heal it, over and over, if you let it, and that letting it do both is the only way to live fully; that we are not alone but deeply connected to that which creates, and sustains all life….”
Life is about coexistence.
So many times we/I rail against this idea of “letting it do both”– letting the difficult and the easy coexist, the pain and the joy, the spiritual and the profane–appreciating the gifts or messages of both the ying and the yang.
I mean, who wants the bad stuff in life?
And yet, as we go through life it’ll break our hearts and heal them many times over. And that is what a full life is all about. We aren’t promised a pain-free ride.
Is it possible to sit with the pain and the beauty at the same time? That’s the challenge. Sometimes it seems impossible, when our hearts are full of fear and dread or when we’re overcome with pain and suffering. Sometimes it’s hard to access the beautiful stuff because we let the bad stuff carry so much weight.
And yet. It IS possible. Getting at the beauty, not letting the bad stuff overpower it? Being grateful for what’s good? That’s how we evolve. It’s something I have to make a conscious effort to do.
Ain’t easy, sometimes. It’s work.
But it is so worth it.