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 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
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 on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

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 a 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 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.

by Oriah Mountain Dreamer from her book THE INVITATION (c) 1999. Published by HarperONE, San Fransisco. All rights reserved. Presented with permission of the author.


Yampa River May 2014

 I’ve been told that I would love it ever since I started boating. The Yampa. Wild and free,  it’s the only undamned major tributary of the Colorado River Drainage. Meandering a twisted path through a desolate land of commanding sandstone bluffs and soft desert meadows, the river flowed with the swollen strength of a good winter’s snowmelt running downhill. The Yampa carried logs, plenty of healthy silt, and our bunch of banterers, current seers, and echo callers down through it’s growing depths, around turns complete with alcoves, stripes of patina leading gaping faces upward to a perfectly clouded sky. 

We, a group of 7 from all over with many common bonds, started the trip knowing only one other person on the trip. It can be rare for all the elements to come together so swimmingly, but this was a perfect example of what a private river trip can be. Days were spent being swept away, by the current and the moment, and each other all laughing and living and splashing. Nights were spent exploring side canyons, laying in alcoves, following sheep trail, dancing and falling in the sand, eating good food, showing off best costumes and bruises, and honest conversation amongst heaps of coffee, tea, and libations. 

As we went downriver, navigating rapids, the wind and the clouds grew, and it became quite cold.  It sprinkled almost every night, causing me to set up my little-used river tent, instead of the much talked about never happened cuddle puddle. Our last night at Jones Hole was dampened by a steady rain starting when we hit shore, and I retreated to my tent to meditate a bit before dinner. Our last day started with a bit of rain, but it quickly turned to snow. Being slightly unprepared and very cozy in bed, I stayed there until I heard talk of breakfast. We didn’t leave camp until noon, everybody was trying in vain to dry their gear on our flimsy, smoky fire. As we rowed out, not-too-distant mountains were dusted with white, sending us off with a magnificent and complete vision of just how good river life can be.

Everything that everyone has told me about the Yampa was true, and it still knocked my socks off, far exceeding any expectations I had. The beauty of the land, the power of the river as a life giver in this place of raw desolation struck me, knowing that it all was almost lost, many times to greedy dam builders. 

Oh yes. Warm Springs! I wasn’t nervous about it, until we scouted. Sure, the Maytag hole at the bottom of the rapid is BIG (comparable to Lava’s ledge hole), but it was the hole above it that concerned me. This hole had sharp, snaggly rocks on the right, and a boat crunching hole on the left, with a barely noticeable shute right in between (that was pushing towards the left cruncher) . Me being in my borrowed Aire SuperPuma (a 13ft half-raft, closer to the dimensions of a IK) I knew there was no room for error. Before pushing out into the sweeping current, I told my passenger and buddy Elizabeth ” I want you to know that I’m imagining a great run, fun, and good. But, if I don’t hit that spot right, high side! I mean, really lean into it. And, IF you swim, swim right. OK, Lets go.” I was planning to pull into the first hole, then turn for the shute, but I ended up pushing right into it, hitting that shute just right, and just passing by the hole, getting a good look deep into it’s maw as we shouted our joy in having made it through. Whooooooooooo! That feeling, is what rafting is all about. 

Return from the River

Just returned from my 25 day river trip through the Grand Canyon. Still processing; the experience, the feelings, the photos, the lessons. Making the transition back to the rim world. As time passes the river washes everything downstream and I am left with the knowledge of “place” above all things.