This week, in addition to reading David Ricoh's book, The Five Things We Cannot Change (which is turning out to be EXACTLY the book I should be reading right now, for any number of reasons), I am finally going through the July-August issue of Lenswork magazine, which is a tribute to writer-photographer Bill Jay.
The entire issue is a compendium of some of Bill's best writing over the course of his (sadly, now ended) lifetime, and it's deliciously perceptive and often incredibly funny; pure delight to read, perhaps even if you're not a photographer. But yesterday he quoted from this note which Martha Graham apparently wrote to Agnes de Mille, and I just have to share it with you. If there were one message I most wanted to hear, and one message I most wanted to share with my children, and with you, I think this might just be it:
"There is a vitality, a life force...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 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 yourself open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open."
This week I went with a friend to see the Michael Jackson movie, This is It. And whatever I might think of the man and his lifestyle, I can't help but be impressed by his clarity and humility as much as by his gifts for music, dance, and showmanship. In his own way, the man was a genius -- primarily in that he allowed all that talent to flow through him and out to us. It is, perhaps, not surprising that in the end he couldn't support the voltage. But I'm grateful he was willing to remain open and to share. I hope you and I can do the same.