When I developed my disability fate gifted me with a new image issue to add to the collection of self image issues that I had been carrying around for years, a destroyed image of my value as an individual. I have always determined my value as an individual by what I do and what I am able to contribute to the lives of the people around me. When disability cut me off from most of the things that I used to identify who I was, and what my value as an individual was, I found myself looking at a giant void. For years I looked at this void asking myself, “Who am I now? What value is my life? How can I fill this hole?”
It took years of therapy, journaling, sitting in monasteries, meditation, and prayer (to name just a few of the methods used) to overcome these issues. Today I came across a quote from the famous dancer Martha Graham. I wish I had come across this years ago, so I decided to post it here on my blog. My hope is that someone working their way through the same sort of issues might find some wisdom and help in the words. I wish I could post along with this quote some magical bit of wisdom to help people through that process, but I never found one. All I discovered is that each person has to find their own unique path through that forest of self doubt. When you are lost in the middle of the forest you may not think the path is there, but it is. The trick is to not give up looking for it.
Self-help gurus try to sell people on the idea that we should just be happy and find our value in the fact that we exist. I don’t buy into this idea at all. Some might say that this quote makes that argument, but I don’t see it that way. To me the wisdom that this shares, a wisdom that I wish I had been able to learn much earlier in my life, is that we shouldn’t be wasting our time being worried about our value and worth. Instead we should spend that energy being who we are and let others be the judge. If we are true to who we are, and put all our energy into making that unique expression the best it can be, then we will attract people who will appreciate and love us for who we truly are.
“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”
― Martha Graham