In the last two months I have desisted from writing and art – sometimes with ease and relief, sometimes with a restless chomping at the bit. I’m glad I did it. Sometimes I need to create a vacuum; I need to have a psychic and creative housecleaning in which everything is swept away and I am left facing empty walls without a crayon.
Part of my discontent arose from motivation. In both art and writing I had begun wondering why I was doing what I was doing. What was the meaning or purpose? Was it enough just to do it because I felt like it, and how much of that was ego-driven or commitment based? I was thinking too much and second-guessing all my actions.
I turned my attention to other parts of my life and drew my bucket from other wells. I now feel more refreshed. I don’t know if I found any ‘answers’ but I did discover a lighter spirit and a desire to again present my insights, rhythms and perspectives.
In seeming support of this new chapter I came across a quote from Martha Graham when I attended a little get together on ‘found poetry’ (more of that at http://marietaylorink.com blog in a few days) that spoke directly to the questions I had been pondering. Plus, I discovered that Martha hailed from Allegheny, Pennsylvania, my neck of the eastern woods which, of course, gave even more credence to her pronouncement.
After reflecting on her words, I could no longer wait to share it and kick started the blogger. So, here is the big one for your contemplation.
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others”
I was surprised and delighted by her statement “You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work.” How freeing! It releases us from the thinking mind, the judging mind, the ego. In becoming a channel for the creative we turn the responsibility for the end result over to the Creative.
After a little more poking around I found a few other statements she made that I felt captured the creative spirit.
“There is a fatigue so great that the body cries, even in its sleep. There are times of complete frustration; there are daily small deaths.”
“We learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. One becomes in some area an athlete of God.”
“Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.”
Thank you, Martha Graham, for sharing your gifts.
PS: I am using a new layout design for the blog and wonder if the dark background makes it too hard to read. What do you think?
Martha Graham was an American dancer and choreographer regarded as one of the foremost pioneers of modern dance, and is widely considered one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Graham invented a new language of movement, and used it to reveal the passion, the rage and the ecstasy common to human experience.
She danced and choreographed for over seventy years, and during that time was the first dancer ever to perform at The White House, the first dancer ever to travel abroad as a cultural ambassador, and the first dancer ever to receive the highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom. In her lifetime she received honors ranging from the key to the City of Paris to Japan’s Imperial Order of the Precious Crown.
She said “I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer. It’s permitting life to use you in a very intense way. Sometimes it is not pleasant. Sometimes it is fearful. But nevertheless it is inevitable.”