Talk about rising to the top of your field, Martha Graham (May 11, 1894 – April 1, 1991) was an American modern dancer and choreographer. Her influence on modern dance has been compared to Picasso’s on modern visual arts, Stravinsky’s on music, or Frank Lloyd Wright’s on architecture. We should all be rated so well.
Just assessing her career on longevity is also impressive. She danced and choreographed for over seventy years. Professional dancers experience the same physical wear and tear as other professional athletes. Even if they manage to avoid career shortening injuries, there just comes an age when you can’t do it anymore. Martha Graham surpassed every standard.
Her success and acclaim extended beyond the dance world when Graham was the first dancer ever to perform at the White House and travel abroad as a cultural ambassador. She received the highest civilian awards the anyone can receive including the U.S.’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, Japan’s Imperial Order of the Precious Crown, and the Key to the City of Paris. If you want an example of dreaming the impossible dream, Graham is a hard act to follow. Though she burst through many a barrier, Martha Graham still found boundaries.
Her most famous quote is this: “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.”
For those pursuing worldly success this is a challenge to pursue perfection and no matter how well someone may have done it before, it can still be done better. In terms of personal fulfillment this statement is a black hole of despair that confirms that we can never feel complete or feel that our work is done.
Its not a new observation, Solomon informs us as much in Ecclesiastes yet we still try to use our careers as our identity and church as an expendable distraction. If you know up front that success in a career, a hobby, a sport, or in a secular relationship is fleeting and unattainable, why not let that be the expendable distraction and let Faith become our identity?
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