Saturday, November 14, 2009

Keeping the channel open

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.


Kimberly Mason said...

So so so so so so right! Here's another Diane classic that I will add to my list. Thank you for this, perfect timing for me.

I tend to over think things and therefore NEVER get much accomplished because I'm frozen in though mode. I have been really working on just being me and being as much ME as I can be.

I listened to an interview of Drew Barrymore on 60 minutes yesterday where she was talking about all the rotten crap she's been through and has done and she was asked if she was embarrassed about it. "No, not at all." and said something about how maybe what she went through was more extreme than others (smoking at NINE??? Drugs at 11??? holy crap!) but that it's just life and you get through it and you go on to mess up some more.

Maureen said...

I love the quote.

I have a number of books on Graham and deMille, as well as a volume of deMille's own writing, which I've always enjoyed. Both were extraordinary women.

". . . to keep the channel open. . . and aware. . . ." So wonderfully freeing just to be and to do.

Joyce Wycoff said...

Diane ... perfect quote. "Keep the channel" open is going in my now developing list of artist affirmations. I really love this ... thanks. I just posted about Day 2 of Miksang ... more confusion.