Welcome back to another post in the Monday Inspirations series, where guest bloggers write about the books and authors that have inspired them. Today’s post is by Dr Gulara Vincent, who has also written the most visited post in the series: How Agatha Christie Saved My Life. You can check out OTHER Monday Inspirations posts here.
I found Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s ‘The Invitation’ in a toilet. One of my housemates left it on the floor.
It took me 10 minutes to finally get myself to the toilet. Both bathrooms were occupied. There were seven of us in the house, and outrageously some of those people liked reading on a throne, I fumed. No wonder it’s impossible to get to the toilet, I grumbled under my breath picking up the purple-covered book. Mountain Dreamer. Huh? What sort of name is that? I rolled my eyes. Some of my housemates were distinctly flaky. Well, they liked to introduce me to visitors as ‘normal’. As I harrumphed internally, my eyes were scanning first through the back cover and then the opening 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.’
My insides clenched in response. A part of me wanted to close the book down and forget about it. I kept reading the poem. By the sixth paragraph, I was crying.
‘It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me
I want to know if you can
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.’
The pull of the book felt unbearable. This woman I’ve never heard of was speaking directly to my soul.
It was only when someone tried to open the toilet door, I realised that I forgot about the primary purpose of my visit into this spacious bathroom with warm orange walls. Sun was streaming through two windows. It felt, as if I woke up from a dream.
Reluctantly, I placed the book where I found it. I had no time for books like this. My eyes could take only so much strain. Reading hundreds of pages of books and magazines for my PhD project had to take priority over enjoying myself.
Except… I could not stop thinking of this strange book. Eventually, I borrowed the book and decided to read it during my breaks. My productivity sky-rocketed. I got up at five or six in the morning and worked till mid-day when I took a well-deserved break. Packing the purple book into my bag, I went to the local cafe in a nearby park. The autumn was setting in so most customers were indoors. The alley of chestnut trees with yellow leaves in front of me looked like a gateway into new life. I sat on a cold iron chair outside and savoured every word of this invitation to be true to myself. I didn’t dare to sit with other people even when it drizzled because…. There was no predicting when and how this book could touch me. As I read achingly raw words in the book, tears streamed down my face. They were pulling at the cords of deep longing, longing I could not even name.
I know now. My being was craving to be true, authentic and real. To drop all masks, stop trying to fit in so hard, to be… ‘normal’. And most importantly, to speak my truth.
Five years after reading this book (and all the other books Oriah has written), I started writing my memoir. Writing this post made me realise how much ‘The Invitation’ has influenced my writing journey. As a writer, I am not willing to betray my soul any more, even at the risk of disappointing others.