Dissent and Unrest

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 others.—Martha Graham

Martha Graham, Copyright Barbara Morgan Archives

This topic has come up in conversation with several different friends over the past few weeks. I am notorious for striving. Pushing. Looking for the next thing. I’ve definitely been accused of not enjoying the present, savoring my victories and stopping to smell the roses.

Truth is, that’s just not who I am. I’m always hungry for more. Achieving a goal means to me that  it is time to move on to the next one. That I’m capable of moving on to the next one. As my friend Jose says, “You always need a target.”

Apparently, according to Martha, I’m not the only one. What is it about the artistic nature that keeps us so unsatisfied?

I think it is because artists see options, variations, choices. For us, there is very often more than one way to reach a goal. When we reach one destination, we feel a bit sad, guilty even, for all the avenues left unexplored along the way. We keep marching, trying to discover more- about our world, about ourselves.

Artists also realize that the surface visual is not the same as the meaning or intention. We take very little at face value. We search for meaning a few layers down- poking, questioning.

The life of the artist is a search, a quest. For meaning, for life. And it doesn’t come simply and we aren’t satisfied with the easy answers.

So, where are you headed today? What questions are you asking on your way there?