Say it again Saturday

June 2nd, 2012 by Jan

Today I’m re-posting a story. I’m not sure when I wrote this, but I find it’s fitting for the day and the quote by Martha Graham is worth reading again.

“What are you working on now, Jan,” someone asked me last night. It is a question I get a lot. Usually I have an answer. Most of the time I am working on something specific, but yesterday I had to think about it.

What I’m working on right now — Nothing. Not a darn thing. I’m not working on anything. I’m not, working on keeping my shoulders down, I’m not working on finding balance or stillness, I’m not working on structure, not working on a book or one of the 10 important points. I’m not working on a quilt, a bead, a story, or a form. I’m not working on anything!

I have been playing a lot though. What I’m doing is enjoying the day, my husband, and Peet. I’ve had some interesting conversations, some wonderful walks, connections with old friends, and I’ve been playing Tai Chi. I’ve been playing with glass, I’ve been playing music and I’ve been playing just to play. I haven’t been working on anything!

Martha Graham wrote to Agnes de Mille the following and I have been lost in it for a few days.

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is 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 open and aware directly 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.”

From time to time, I will hear a student say, they have been working so hard, yet they still aren’t happy with their practice; their art. I’ve never met anyone who is happy with the level of their practice or creativity. We are a society that tends toward “more, better and different”. We are promised reward if we work hard enough and long enough.

This week my reward has been “divine dissatisfaction, blessed unrest” — I’ve been playing and I love it.

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