keep the channel open

photo of Martha Graham, en danceToday, Google tells me, is Martha Graham‘s 117th birthday.

Martha Graham was a revolutionary dancer and choreographer. I found this on the wikipedia entry for her, when I went looking for the source of one particular quote:

Agnes de Mille [wrote]: “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.”

from The Life and Work of Martha Graham

You’ve seen that quote before, I’d imagine. Consider reading it again, and allowing it into your bloodstream, that truth, that you are singular in this world, and that your particular creations can only emerge through you — no one else can create what you have to share. Someone else might offer something similar, but it will not be the same, not at all, as what you in particular have to create — and if you don’t give us what you have inside of your creative self, then the world is lesser for it.

Here, though, is a writing prompt for today. Martha also is to have said, “The body is a sacred garment” and “The body never lies.” Choose one of these, or both, as your starting place today. How do these quotes land with you? Do you believe them, or not? What words or stories or images or sounds begin to emerge within you as you read those lines? Let that response open your writing today — and follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.

Thank you, always, for your creative self, for the ways you nurture creativity in others, and for your words, among the rest of your creative material.

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