The Invitation

By Sue Trollip

There is a woman named Oriah Mountain Dreamer who wrote a poem called The Invitation which I have loved since first discovering it. The opening line is:

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.

I am always amazed when, shortly after being introduced, people ask, ‘What do you do?’

What does it matter?

I hate that question especially now a days because I don’t have a quick answer.

I went to a Christmas lunch yesterday and chatted to four people at my end of the table, three of whom I’d never met before. It was a surprisingly pleasant afternoon. We discussed Durban’s restaurants and the live music hotspots and books and holidays and at the end of the afternoon, on the cusp of the evening, and after several glasses of wine, one of the gentleman began to recite poetry. Nobody discussed their jobs.

Towards the end of Oriah’s poem there is a verse that goes:

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, ‘YES!’

When I look at the people in my life I realise most of my friends and all of my family are full of hope. They’re glass half full people who pick themselves up and do what they can with what they have. It’s reassuring to know I will always have plenty of company whenever the desire strikes to stand and shout to the silver of the full moon.

The last line of the poem reads:

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 the lunch, I drove home in a terrible storm the rain was pounding down so hard that I could barely see out of my car windows. I discovered a leak above my clutch pedal so added a frozen, wet foot to my woes. Eventually I had to take off my jacket and use it to de-mist the windscreen. It was not a happy journey especially when we hit bumper-to-bumper traffic on the bridge over the river. The adjacent bridge, although I couldn’t see it, was under construction because it had caved in earlier in the year and the feeling of being stuck on this bridge with a hundred other cars was not comforting.
I’ve seen the movies, I’ve read the books but instead of panicking I took a few deep breaths and planned my escape route.

Then I prepared my media release as the damp survivor.

After that I pictured the headlines and by the time I got off the bridge I had an interesting start to a short story.

So, while I may not always truly like the company I keep in the empty moments, I certainly do know how to keep myself entertained.


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