The importance of expression of creativity

Google and their free daily icon history/awareness classes (lol) introduced me recently to an interesting personality named Martha Graham who, had she been still alive, would have celebrated her birth on May 11th.  A modern contemporary dancer, and choreographer, her story piqued my interest a bit. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the art of dance. Only dabbled a bit in it myself,  was never especially gifted at the medium, but had loved every minute in it anyway.

As I scanned over the wiki page dedicated to her, I found an interesting quote that actually kind of hit a chord for me.

‘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.”

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always really struggled with a sense of worth. Always trying to figure out the real measurement to which I could know that I wasn’t just taking up space.  A solid indisputable reason for being and a pinnacle point or goal to which I could look forward to being able to look back and “be ok”,  to “feel ok” with what I had accomplished, and know for sure that I was “a good person”.  A notation that would give evidence that I was more than the dust from which I came.

Most are all told as coddled children, that we are all special, and that t here is a divine reason for our being.  Even for those not brought up in supportive situations, in our fairytales and mythology, there are these constant swirling ideas of destiny, and a place in time when we make our mark. An intended point that we become an actual piece in the puzzle and assist in making the “bigger picture” more clear. I think most are left constantly wondering when their time will be. We create for ourselves huge perceptions and expectations of ourselves in the process.

Over time while “waiting” for our day, I think I  for one have become discouraged (like many who don’t like to admit it) I think I start to doubt that thought of having some single divine reason. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in God, and that he designed us with just as much, and surely even more attention than that of each snowflake.  Its just beyond that point that I seem to veer.

I don’t believe that the thought of being designed by God should automatically allot us any sort of entitlement. Regardless of your religion, being created by a god is not the same as being one correct? I mean you can use the best ingredients and still have your recipe become sour right?

Our life is our gift to do with it what we can, so how is it that we continue to think that we can have this gift,  and ignore the the responsibilities and management that comes along with it? Why is it ok to sit back and just let it happen?  Its not God’s job to make us be what we are supposed to be, he did that part when we were created. He gave us everything we needed, and we are supposed to take it from there.  It is our own responsibility to explore this life and take action to make things better along the way.

I just find the idea of  “our reason for being” coming down to a single pinnacle moment of destiny in the form of a choice we make at one certain point in time as being bit far fetched. What sense is living 75 years only to have 15 minutes of it be “our reason for being”? I just don’t have faith in destiny or that way of thinking.

I think in the light of Martha Graham’s quote, we are really all artists in some capacity. We may not be the very best all the time, but it doesn’t really matter. We aren’t perfection, and some of the things we view as being an utter mess and complete failure to our own expectations, still brings light and enjoyment to others.  It is the compilation of what we give to this world that is our legacy, our masterpiece, and our reason.

I remember as a child, I had been kind of decent at drawing, and had people tell me so which made me feel pretty good about it for awhile, and it encouraged me. However there came a day when  a new student arrived, and their talent far surpassed my own. I remember that I just became really discouraged, as what I could offer no longer measured up, so I just stopped practicing.  It wasn’t until many years later I picked up the pencil and drew for the enjoyment and the release it gives.  I now believe that was a wrong step I took, to wait so long to allow that part of me to be expressed.  Not because I think the world necessarily missed out on my grand masterpiece, but because I didn’t allow that creativity to be exercised and expressed as it should have.  Its not about a single piece, its about the experience and how it allows us to grow and inspire.

There are those who don’t appreciate art in its many forms, but I have to say that for those who are drawn to it, there is nothing better than allowing that creativity to be expressed. There is almost a spiritual joy that you free, something that isn’t necessarily totally yours even, but something that resides in you and needs release from time to time.

I think I understand now. While our own expectations on producing a piece of perfection is quite alluring, there are as many different individual views as there are rays from sun. The light we see our work in is totally different than someone with a different vantage point.  The work I do in any aspect of my life is work done for this world, not necessarily myself. So why is it that I could be selfish enough to think that my judgement supersedes all?

This is not to say that we should stop striving to better that which we produce, it is only to say that we shouldn’t ever let a percieved failure eat away at us, preventing us from producing at all.

As odd as it sounds, as artists we are bound to be dissatisfied with things, because its what drives progress. Once you reach the point you find total happiness, we become idle, and creativity is no longer needed.  It is then the end.

Its in the struggles and the need to grow that we experience what we should, that is where actual ” living”  resides.  Its not at the destination, its in the journey.  We should never put so much weight or anticipation on a single event or masterpiece, because in the grand scheme of things it is merely a small point in a time, and can’t possibly be the only reason for our being.

“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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