There Is A Vitality

band recording

Last weekend a band was recording at our place (photo above), and one of the guys gave everyone a printed copy of a quote from Martha Graham. Martha Graham was a dancer and choreographer who lived throughout most of the 20th century.

I loved it so much I thought I’d share it with you here:

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.

I like so many parts of this, I don’t really want to highlight any one. I think the band last weekend were looking particularly at the bit about queer divine dissatisfaction… it is easy during recording to keep wanting to add things and fix things up endlessly, to the point where everyone is exhausted and the project is dulled.

The “no satisfaction at any time” seems at first glance to be at odds with my outlook—I’d say there is satisfaction to be had in following our unique expression, and part of doing that is to live with dissatisfactions with imperfections in our projects.

I do think that whatever our artform is, whether it’s music, visual arts, writing, blogging, business, politics, law, sport, teaching, healing, science, you name it… the trick is to “keep the channel open”. Which makes us more alive.

* * *

akemibook.gifAkemi Gaines from over at Yes To Me has a new eBook out, Lightworker’s Guide To Self-Employment. You might like to head over to her blog and grab yourself a copy—it’s free!

One nugget I found was in the section ‘Embrace your crazy idea’…

Yes, I said it. If you have a crazy idea that you are afraid to tell even your close friends and family about, you are in luck. No, I didn’t say just run with it. You may need to modify certain aspects of that idea.

The thing is that your crazy idea says something important about you.

And remember, a lot of businesses that have proven to be successful started with crazy ideas.

I like this very much, and I think it ties in very nicely with what Martha has said.

What do you think?

35 thoughts on “There Is A Vitality

  1. Akemi - Yes to Me

    Good morning — or good evening to you, Robin.

    That part about dissatisfaction got me thinking, too. My take is that it’s about continual growth. Not that we are unhappy about who we are now, but we are always open to the new possibilities, and in that sense, we are “dissatisfied”…

    And after all, this is why we incarnated. As spirits we were perfect and needed nothing, but we chose to incarnate in this physical world, which by definition things are uneven and in want.

    Thank you for spreading the words about my eBook. Seems like that part about crazy ideas is lightening up quite a few lightbulbs in people.

    .-= Akemi – Yes to Me´s last blog ..My eBook On Spiritual Entrepreneurship =-.

  2. Patricia

    “it is easy during recording to keep wanting to add things and fix things up endlessly, to the point where everyone is exhausted and the project is dulled.”
    Along about midnight last night this became true…so we will make corrections now after the fact.

    I just love this poem and made Geek Girl SF read it before she begins her 2 graduate school projects this morning…she is alive and stressed after spending so much time on my project…
    The sun is shining…all will be good! Thank you for sharing this today! Perfect timing
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Harvest Potluck UNICEF Fundraiser =-.

  3. Betsy Wuebker

    Hi Robin – Great to see you in my reader after a bit of a while! Your post and Akemi’s quote brought to mind another one from good old Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” There is as much perfection in the the doing as there is in the outcome. The worst is doing nothing at all. Thanks!

  4. Nadia - Happy Lotus

    Hi Robin,

    Martha Graham was an awesome dancer. I studied dance for twleve years and she was one of my favorites. I think her love for dance just shined through and she really perfected her craft. This passage that you shared with us is so true. It is so important to be open to the energy that is around you and to really really be aware of that energy. The Universe is merciful and often we get guidance if we just listen. And yay for being alive! 🙂

    Hope all is awesome with you!
    .-= Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog ..The Happy Lotus Diaries Begin – Please Share Your Thoughts =-.

  5. Ribon

    Hi beautiful Robin 🙂

    “There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction” ….. I believe so as it is that queer divine dissatisfaction that keeps us searching and creating.

    Thanks for sharing this. I think it’s of great value 🙂

    best wishes for happy and safe summer x
    x Ribbon

    PS.. I love the photo

  6. Ribbon

    okay not sure what’s happening here…. just lost my comment ~ the one that made sense 🙂

    I’ll return later and see if it appears.
    anyway basically I was saying that I think what you have shared here is of great value and I particularly like the line
    “There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction”…
    it implies that dissatisfaction is not a dirty word, but an instigation for motivation.

    🙂 xx Ribbon

    PS… I love the photo too
    .-= Ribbon´s last blog ..See you later… =-.

  7. Giovanna Garcia

    Hi Robin,

    I love the quote. I didn’t know who Martha Graham was, but I am sure glad I got to learn a little about her here. You are so right about don’t be afraid, we should all let our so call crazy idea out!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action
    .-= Giovanna Garcia´s last blog ..We can end hate and discrimination. =-.

  8. Evelyn Lim

    I enjoyed the lyrics although as you said I wondered if the words “queer divine dissatisfaction” would be most appropriate. I would call mine an intuitive feeling or an inner desire that keeps me going. Any dissatisfaction on my part is more or less internal, hardly “divine”.
    .-= Evelyn Lim´s last blog ..Timeless Unfolding of Truths =-.

  9. Marelisa

    Hi Robin: You have bands practicing in your house, how cool! I love that quote, and I’m going to have stop by Akemi’s blog and take a look at that ebook.

  10. Robin

    @Akemi – hi Akemi – yes I think that’s a good way of looking at the dissatisfaction bit. Well it’s afternoon for me now!
    @Tess – hi there Tess – yes, so true!
    @Patricia – glad you found it useful, Patricia! Looking forward to the yummy eBook.
    @Betsy – yes it has been a while – and thanks for the Henry quote!
    @Nadia – hi Nadia – yes, I had to search for the quote to see where it came from, and now I have learned a whole lot about Martha Graham – I had only vaguely heard of her before. Things are actually pretty good here – all awesomeness ot you!
    @Ribbon X3 – hi there Ribon Ribbon Ribbon – the first one went into moderation. I’m glad you enjoyed your break – the water in the old photos looked gorgeous. What a way with words Martha has, eh?
    @Giovanna – hi there Giovanna – I thought of you, with your blog ‘Imperfect Action’. Here’s to crazy ideas!
    @Marelisa – hi there Mare – yes, I vaguely remembered reading it before somewhere and liking it, too. (the band was recording, hence the inspirational material!)

  11. Robin

    Hi Evelyn – you went into spam for some reason. I would describe the feeling as inner desire, too. I guess she was addressing that restless urge to do “one more thing” to a project, saying that although the urge is “dissatisfaction”, the restless urge to keep creating has its divine side.

  12. Robin

    Friends – Frank and I are off into the bush for a festival over the next few days, so I won’t be visiting any blogs till next week, unless I get to leave a couple of comments during today. I promise faithfully I will visit you all when I re-surface!

  13. Chris Edgar

    Thanks for this Robin — I always find it inspiring to simply see myself as a vessel for, and in fact part of, the flow of creative energy, as opposed to getting all caught up with “me” being the author and all the ways “I” have to look good to the world and avoid criticism and so on.

  14. Cath Lawson

    Hi Robin – I like this bit best: “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.”

    It’s really reassuring because no matter how confident you are, it’s difficult to believe in yourself all the time.

  15. Lance

    Hi Robin,
    This idea of a unique expression within each of us is so life-fulfilling. And it also makes me think…how often this is wasted, because it takes us out of our comfort zone – a place that can be difficult to leave. Here’s to keeping those channels open…
    .-= Lance´s last blog ..Sunday Thought For The Day =-.

  16. Kathy Dobson

    Hi Robin,
    “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.”

    I had to laugh at myself when I read your post. You see, I dabble in the arts…pastel to be exact and whenever I’ve had a project going (I do portraits) there is never a “done point.” Never a “finished point” for every time I would go back I would find something that could be improved upon. I finally have to put the pastels away and say “it is finished.”
    We must be grateful for this “divine dissatisfaction” for without it, I do believe we would stop evolving! It is this unrest, this dissatisfaction that drives humanity on to reach greater heights.
    I wish I could have been at band practice!
    .-= Kathy Dobson´s last blog ..Who Are You? =-.


    I liked it very much too, Robin! Thanks for sharing the whole quote, it’s the first time I’ve read it. There is indeed, a vitality, an energy within each of us that should not be blocked, that cannot be blocked. Life will express itself and we are the honored vessels of its expression!
    .-= I TAKE OFF THE MASK´s last blog ..Are You Editing Yourself Too Much? =-.

  18. Walter

    Most people aspire life to be in parallel with their expectations–hence satisfaction. But life has its own quirks and has more likely put dissatisfaction upon us. The only way to deal with it is to be open to what life brings and embrace it. 🙂
    .-= Walter´s last blog ..Success eludes mediocrity =-.

  19. SnaggleTooth

    I agree that for me, as an artist, I am never satisfified; a work is never perfection, a project is never finished, yet it is the time that expires to work on it- which dictates the stop of a pieces work. There is always another variation, better color, expression, level of detail, to try. Possibilities n pieces to do never end, but endure.
    This seems a fitting way to describe what you’re getting at!
    .-= SnaggleTooth´s last blog ..Awards n Awards =-.

  20. Sara


    I loved the Martha Graham quote…or was it a poem? My favorite stanza was this hands down:

    “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.”

    This is something I do need to remind myself of. I like the idea of keeping the channel open:~)

    Thanks for sharing this!
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..Picture Story: The Dead Tree =-.

  21. Lisa (mommymystic)

    Wow, I love Martha Graham (I studied dance growing up and in college) but I had never read this. How wonderful. My favorite line was the 2nd “And if you block it,
    it will never exist through any other medium
    and it will be lost.
    The world will not have it. ”
    Reminded me of that wonderful Marianne Williamson quote, the ‘no one will benefit from you hiding your light’ one. Thx for sharing…
    .-= Lisa (mommymystic)´s last blog ..Spiritual Processing,Transits and Empowerments =-.

  22. Patricia

    just wanted to let you know I am linking back to you about your referral to Jenny Mannion on my 12/11/2009 post Thank you

    that we made $1k for 1000 reads for UNICEF….thank you for all your support
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..1,000 Thank Yous =-.

  23. Ching Ya

    To keep the channel open, I like that. I believe in everyone of us there’s a sense of creativity; the difference is the level of acceptance and how important it is in our lives. How far one is willing to appreciate the gift and keep inspirations alive. I would say there’s a level of satisfaction to every work, just that we may not easily satisfied with the position we’re in. We are opening ourselves to bigger challenges and better work — the will and hope are keeping us alive.

    Social/Blogging Tracker
    .-= Ching Ya´s last blog ..8 Lessons Derived from Vacation to Boost Your Blogging Experience =-.

  24. Pingback: A Friend in Need – Another Thank you –

  25. Barbara Swafford

    Hi Robin,

    Keeping the channels open is important, as is sometimes running with what we’ve got. When I think about blogging, if I start to analyze a post too much, I might never publish it but instead keep tweaking it. Sometimes I just hit the publish button and say to myself, “that’s the best I can do right now”. Then, if I find imperfections later, I know I can write another post and elaborate on what I was attempting to say in the first place.

    It all makes life fun, and like you said, “makes us more alive”.
    .-= Barbara Swafford´s last blog ..Sexy Bookmarks, Toolbars & Time Savers =-.

  26. Robin

    @Janni – a pleasure, Janni!
    @Chris – it’s a lot less stressful, isn’t it?
    @Cath – I find it reassuring, too
    @Lance – hiya Lance – yes!
    @Kathy – an artist! Good to hear of your experience, Kathy.
    @I TAKE OFF THE MASK – hi there – I like your “honored vessels”
    @Walter – thanks for yor thoughts – quirks there are a-plenty.
    @Fannie Junster – yeah I’m the same with our website at the moment – I keep tweaking it endlessly.
    @SnaggleTooth – “never end, but endure” – interesting!
    @Mama Zen – glad you like it MZ!
    @Lisa – great to hear you studied dance and love Martha Graham – it’s funny how everyone (visiting here, anyhow) resonate with these words as truth.
    @Patricia – great to hear you made the 1000 bucks Patricia! (I downloaded one). Thanks for the link!
    @Ching Ya – hi there – a nice way of putting it!
    @Barbara – that’s pretty much what I do, too – at some point you have to say “that’ll do”!

  27. Robin

    To anyone who should drop by here…

    I was hoping to get a post out before the holiday break, but it isn’t going to happen, so I’ll write a note here instead. Things are going great over here in music business land – escalating, one might say. And at the same time I tweaked my lower back a little while ago, which meant no sitting at the computer at all – lots of lying down and short walks – and it’s now almost better (after several visits to the chiropractor).

    Have a great holiday period, and I’ll see you one way or another some time in the next few weeks.

  28. Ribbon

    Buggar about your back… hope all is well soon.

    I just popped in to wish you a happy summer and a merry christmas to both you and Frank.

    Have fun and take care.
    see ya next year 🙂

    xoxo Ribbon 🙂
    .-= Ribbon´s last blog ..Angels say play… =-.

  29. Janni Lloyd

    Happy new decade, Robin and everyone!
    The creative process is so wonderful. Most people will know the following lyrics, they always give me shivers.

    I say love it is a flower and you it’s only seed ……..

    So remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snow, lies the seed that with the sun’s love, in the spring becomes…. THE ROSE

    I just read how Amanda Mcbroom wrote this song ……’What, then, do I think love is? Suddenly, it was as if someone had opened a window in the top of my head. Words came pouring in. I had to keep reciting them to myself as I drove faster and faster towards home, so I wouldn’t forget them. I screeched into my drive way, ran into the house, past various bewildered dogs and cats and husbands, and sat down at the piano. Ten minutes later, THE ROSE was there.

    I called my husband, George, into the room and played it for him, as I always did with my new songs. He listened, and quietly said to me, “You’ve just written a standard.” I protested that no one but my pals would ever hear it. (This is long before I had ever recorded anything.) He said,”Mark my words, something is going to happen with this song.”

    Yes, there is indeed a vitality…….
    .-= Janni Lloyd´s last blog ..Physical Immortality – the mass possibility Dr Janni Lloyd =-.

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