Martha Graham offered this brilliant advice–these famous words–when, according to Agnes de Mille: “I was bewildered and worried that my entire scale of values was untrustworthy. … I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be. Martha said to me, very quietly,
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.” ~Martha Graham
I read the first part of this quote many years ago but it was only recently that I discovered the rest of it. Tonight it really spoke to me–the part of me and so many others I know who struggle with doubts and wonder sometimes why we do what we do and when we will finally feel we have it right.
Here’s to all the artists.