Life that Yearns
Life that Yearns
There's no shortage of opinions about what we should do with your lives. In nearly every moment of our lives from the second we're born into a society, we are met with expectations from family, friends, teachers, employers, colleagues, and random strangers. Of course the vast majority of transactional expectations are necessary for any functioning society. For example, pedestrians expect cars to stop at a red light so they may cross safely with confidence.
Recently, however, I was confronted with a very real question by someone who was struggling to find common ground with her spouse on how to live more fully. Whether she was simply venting to a compassionate listener, seeking perspective or advice on how to move forward, I found myself concluding that such a personal crisis wouldn't be best addressed by consulting others, but by meditating clearly on oneself. What does that mean?
I think about this quote by Martha Graham, a dancer and choreographer who revolutionized modern dance as an art form:
"There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and 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, not how it compares with other expression. 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."
While she may have been addressing artistry, creativity, and personal expression, I re-read the words "life force," and know that the same ideas apply to all actions we take in life.
We often think of what we want to do with life, as though life were a medium to mold under our will. Or maybe life is a tool, a means through which our desired ends might be accomplished. And maybe both are true in a certain light, but when we feel lost and don't know what to do, the perspective that life is instead a force moving through us can be a remarkably freeing and awe-inspiring exercise in surrender. To pay attention to what kind of life that is, to give it permission to express itself through us -- even against what others might expect of us -- can be an even more powerful invitation.
As the first illustration of 2024, I hope you find chances to answer this invitation. May you listen to your heart, may you trust your gut, and may you act with a clear mind. 💛