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The Most Beautiful Poem I’ve Ever Read

by jenny sansouci on December 29, 2013

“The reward for holding nothing back is feeling your place in the universe.”
-Mark Nepo (quote taken from Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map Planner)

I’ll admit…I spend a good chunk of my energy trying to “tone it down.” Toning down the level of intensity I feel about life – how deeply I feel things, how fiercely I love people, how strong my opinions can be, how particular my preferences are, how things affect me, how hopelessly romantic I feel about love, how excited I can get, how rebellious I can feel against how things “should” be, the ecstatic bliss and the deep sadness that can envelop me and pierce me to the core. I hide it out of a fear that people will think I’m too much, too intense, too extreme. That maybe my edges are just too sharp. Even while I’m writing this, I’m thinking I should change some of the wording so it won’t make people uncomfortable.

I really don’t read poetry. It’s never been a thing for me. But when I first read this poem about a year ago, it actually made me dizzy. It articulated things I had only felt inside before. This poem makes me realize I don’t want to tone it down, I don’t want to hold back. I wouldn’t trade my intensity for anything. It’s the essence of who I am and I know there’s a whole tribe of people out there who feel the same. People who can love me for all of it.

I wouldn’t give up that I can feel, taste and touch magic. That when I get a creative idea it feels like I’m channeling it from a source outside myself. That following my intuition feels like a physical need as much as breathing. That pushing the boundaries of what’s possible drives me more than anything else. That I love and relate to crazy people. That I’ve been madly in love more times than I can count on my hands (but only one time did I feel like the love actually transported us to another galaxy).

I wouldn’t give up that I had the courage to fly across the country and drive for hours just to stand in front of a man I barely knew and tell him how deeply I felt for him. That even though I drove back with tears staining my face, I’d do it all again – like, tomorrow. That I’ve gone to countless Fall Out Boy concerts all by myself, just to stand in the audience and hear the lyrics that make my heart burst into a million shattered pieces. That 2 things – getting sober and the end of my last serious relationship – rocked my world so hard, threw me so deep into the depths of loss and anguish, that I had no choice but to completely transform. That I know with 100% confidence I’ll meet that ex-boyfriend again in my next lifetime, and I’ll know it’s him by his eyes. That sometimes when I’m walking around outside I cry because everything is so beautiful and awful and magical and fleeting and we really have no idea what the hell is going on here.

I would never give up those parts of me. The intensity makes my inner world insanely colorful.

This poem makes me realize I want to be unapologetically me, in all of my intensity…and that I want to love other people for all of theirs, too.

Ok, wow, enough about me, here’s the poem:

The Invitation, by Oriah

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 center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled 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,

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 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.


The Invitation

When I revisited this poem again recently, I realized there was a whole book written explaining it. I just finished reading the book, which is why all of this feels so fresh to me. It’s really one of the most incredible books I’ve ever read. Then I realized the author had an entire box set of books, including one on creativity. I immediately bought them all (they may be waiting for me at my apartment in Brooklyn right now). I’ve always wanted to write the way she writes, to articulate the passion and intensity of life the way she does…and so, I’ll immerse myself in her words, and let them help me form my own…


Eek. Ok, cool, high five, bye!


I know a lot of you guys love this poem too, I keep hearing you tell me on instagram. So let me know what you think in the comments. 🙂

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelsey December 29, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Everything you said here totally resonated with me. I’m also one of those “intense” people, most of the time anyway. And I’ve felt myself shrinking back sometimes lately, especially in my most recent relationship, which also recently ended.

I stumbled across the Invitation about a month ago and it totally rocked my world as well, and I’m just finishing reading Oriah’s whole book that accompanies the beautiful poem.

No more shrinking back.


jenny sansouci December 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm

I just finished the book too – and I’m about to start The Dance next week. SO GOOD! It’s the perfect way to start a new year. Thanks for your comment, keep up the intensity. 🙂


Kelsea December 29, 2013 at 8:55 pm

girl your writing in brilliant. thank you for always sharing so open and honestly


jenny sansouci December 30, 2013 at 10:11 am

Thank you Kels. 🙂


Kena December 30, 2013 at 12:07 am

I, too find myself having to contain myself. I’ve come to understand how intense I really am and how it can be overwhelming to someone who doesn’t ‘get me ‘.

That’s a lovely poem. Since you’ve read the book I wondered your thought(s) on the last sentence in the 6th paragraph. It says “…If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.” Is this meant to imply that those that have faith are not worthy of trust?


jenny sansouci December 30, 2013 at 10:11 am

Hey Kena,
I thought the same thing. I was confused about it too. But after reading the book, what she means by “faithless” is the opposite of “faithful” — meaning, don’t be faithful to things that make you betray your own soul just because you may have made a commitment to something earlier in life. In this context, “faithless” means to be true to yourself no matter what, even if you have to break commitments and disappoint others. Obviously not in a way that is reckless or harms people, but in a way where you’re not just pretending nothing has changed — being willing to walk away from things that are betraying your soul (like a relationship, for instance).

She says “if we live life fully, change is inevitable, and commitments must be remade and renewed. We betray ourselves when we deny the change that terrifies us.”

Oh man, I get chills at that. A good example: My ex boyfriend and I used to say we’d love each other and stay together for as long as we knew it was supporting growth in both of our lives, and for as long as it felt like it was the best for both of us. Not just “I’ll stay with you forever no matter what,” but “I’ll put everything I have into this relationship, because I love you today, but I’ll be honest with you along the way if I start to feel like we’re hitting a ceiling with it.” I knew he was faithful to his own heart and soul more than he was faithful to just “saving the relationship at any cost” – which made him trustworthy, and allowed us to let go when we needed to flourish and expand elsewhere. It’s not comfortable, it’s painful, but it was honest, and it was really freaking brave. Because it’s SO MUCH MORE COMFORTABLE (or, gives the illusion of comfort) to just stay in a relationship and go through the motions even if your soul is asking to be released.

If that makes sense.


anjali December 30, 2013 at 10:31 am

oh this is so me. i think and feel way too much. loved this entry, thanks!


jenny sansouci December 30, 2013 at 5:19 pm

you don’t feel too much, you feel the perfect amount. feel feel!! 🙂


Clarisa mompremier December 30, 2013 at 7:51 pm

This open was an answer to a question I had asked the universe…and even though the answer was yes…it was so much more. I thought it would just be yes …great!!!! But this was yes… And then let’s go your soul…to the part of you that touches God. Like always the Universe delivered much more then what I asked for…I asked for a yes or no…I got an eloquent profound response. Thank you for sharing so openly..your blog always brings me blessings


Amy January 18, 2014 at 7:44 pm

This was so beautiful–both your words and Oriah’s!


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