I felt the need to hunt down this quote by Martha Graham today.
“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…You have to keep open and aware, directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open… There is no satisfaction, ever, at any time. There is only a queer, divine, dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching, and makes us more alive than others….”
I’m not so sure about Graham’s note about being more alive than others. I suppose that in their interior lives, all people feel a tumbling aliveness, however sleepy their awareness may be, and that artists do not have a corner on it. But as an obscure fiftysomething artiste in the backwoods of the Web (“Fame may be fleeting, but obscurity is forever,” said a button given me be a friend at an open mic this weekend), I feel no less that divine dissatisfaction and blessed unrest. The urge by creatives to constantly make art and stage themselves in performance can be both elemental in a shamanistic or useful way, channeling the clearest streams of fresh water into the village square, and also neurotic in a needy way: Look at this! Love this work, love me! But the purest, best part of creative work is all that lasts anyway, if it lasts at all for any length of time. Translation into action. Keeping the channel open. These may be the best shorthand for working with the addictive creative urge. Everything else that follows is just window dressing.