“You strike me as a woman who’s never been satisfied.” sings Alexander Hamilton to Angelica in the infamous musical. That lyric has always had my attention. Is it true that we ALL feel that search for internal satisfaction? We often experience a yearning, a tugging, a wonder. There is a constant curiosity, an everlasting what-if?
That feeling can be uncomfortable, and I've even heard women say things to me like, "Why can't I just be happy with how things are?". There is nothing wrong with you (quite the contrary!) in feeling this unrest. An artist is never pleased. I have been captivated and guided by this concept, so much so that I put the Martha Graham quote that references this idea directly on the wall (see the quote below).
Never being satisfied is different from dissatisfied, and far different from ungrateful for what we have. Never being satisfied is a quest to uncover, to reveal, to scratch the surface, to do it differently, to do it again.
It requires repetition and conscious inquiry to uncover the truth. And it's part of our process of discovering who we really are.
I put my left hand on the ballet barre thousands and thousands of times to begin each ballet class with a simple plié. Every ballet class for 400 years has started with this simple movement of bending the knees. But, it wasn’t until I’d been doing it for ALMOST 40 YEARS, that I learned that every plié was different. Every time, another opportunity to realign the body, come back to center, re-explore and begin again. Repetition is the mother of skill, an opportunity to create and maintain boundaries, that ultimately loosens the vice of limitations. You have to focus, in order to be free.
That yearning, that tugging, that wondering about what you were put on this planet to do, must be attended to. Only you can tend to your garden. You have the seeds, you have the soil, you have everything required to plant the flowers. But, ultimately it’s up to you to explore the “blessed unrest”.
What is it about you, your hopes, your dreams, that lies in that blessed unrest category? That soulful desire that just won't leave you alone?
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 time,
this expression is unique.
If you block it,
it will never exist through any other medium
and be lost.
The world will not have it.
It is not yours to determine how good it is;
nor how it compares with other expressions.
It is your business 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.
No artist is ever 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 to Agnes De Mille