“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 this, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will 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 open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU. Keep the channel open.” ~Agnes Demille to Martha Graham.
Agnes goes on to say that it is the “divine dissatisfaction” that artists experience, “a blessed unrest,” that keeps us marching and causes us to be more alive than others. But this “aliveness,” I’ve noticed, makes some people uncomfortable, envious, angry. This loss of safety becomes a threat to some and an adventure to others. And in the process, this scramble of emotions can turn into an interesting (and potentially toxic) brew.
This evening, as I watched out the window while at work, the sunset caused a wholly (holy?) new spectrum of colors that reflected off the snow and salted surfaces of winter. Everything feels covered in an uncomfortable sort of crust. It has been gray for so long that this change in atmospheric conditions (the presence of the sun) causes me to observe the world in a slightly altered way. I watch the people coming home from work. They are tired, but stop at the market across the street. Most come out with a gallon or half gallon of milk, another comes out with a pack of cigarettes, someone with a child waiting in the car comes out with an entire bag of groceries. Something about their movements seems so complacent, so unquestioning, so non-spontaneous. They have stopped at the market to “make do,” and to get them through the weekend with as little effort as possible.
I find it difficult to write tonight because these words are not reflecting the energy I’ve been feeling. I’ve also noticed myself holding back my joy because I’m afraid that people won’t like me anymore if I’m too happy. What’s up with that? This saddens me and makes me feel a conflicted range of emotions. Then I remind myself that it’s their problem—not mine (I read that in a book today and was grateful to have this thought affirmed).
These days I’m just not willing to settle for anything less than absolute happiness. I mean, why not? What do I have to lose? What do any of us have to lose? Because let’s just admit it: even bliss contains its fair share of struggle. Holding back my joy—well that, I’m realizing, is pure nonsense.
I want more and I’m willing to break my heart wide open to get it. I’m beginning to understand that the only thing that holds any of us back is our self. Vinny and I were standing in the kitchen the other night when all of a sudden it simultaneously dawned on both of us how we had been creating struggle and a lack of abundance in our lives all these years by the limiting beliefs we were holding on to. Amazing, these thoughts that can come to you while reaching for the door to let out the dog. And the more time I spend with my authentic self, the more difficult it becomes to settle for anything less. It’s weird. It causes strong reactions both within me and outside of me.
I’ve been reading Simple Abundance every day—and my favorite thought so far this week:
“Choice confers freedom—the freedom to embrace the new because it speaks to your soul and you are listening.” ~Sarah Ban Breathnach.
And my other favorite quote (from Taking the Leap):
“[T]he trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” ~Erica Jong