“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:
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 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.
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.