Divine Disatisfaction

My Dad used to say a performer gives three performances in every performance they give: (1) the performance they want to give, (2) the performance they give and, (3) the performance they wish to heck they'd given!   

 

There is a phenomenon called "Divine Disatisfaction" that most every artist, if they are any good, grapples with, because the artistic pursuit is always a reflection of the artistic journey in process. When a performance is given, an artist learns enough in the process, that it isn't too long before they rise to greater skill because of that learning. One becomes "dissatisfied" with the previous performance and looks forward to the greater future performance. This also applies to a product that is created. So, by it's  very nature, it produces a sense of "Divine Disatisfaction." Below are some words by Martha Graham and her protege', Agnes deMile,  that say it very well:

 

"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 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 open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you."  Martha Graham

If that resonates with you, here is an excerpt from Agnes de Mille’s 1950 autobiography, Dance to the Piper, that elaborates on that thought with eloquence:

“The work wasn’t good enough. All changed, all passed. There was no way of ensuring lasting beauty. Verily, I wrote in water and judging my work with a dreadful dispassionate vision, perhaps it was as well. I spoke to Martha Graham on the pavement outside of Schrafft’s restaurant. She bowed her head and looked burningly into my face. She spoke from a life’s effort. I went home and wrote down what she said: (See quote above)

 ‘But,’ I said, ‘when I see my work I take for granted what other people value in it. I see only its ineptitude, inorganic flaws, and crudities. I am not pleased or satisfied.’

‘No artist is pleased." she said.

‘But, then, there is no satisfaction?’

‘No satisfaction whatever at any time,’ she cried passionately. ‘There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than others.’'

    

Sandie Hum in her blog, "Sacred Fool, " sums it up by saying:

 

"I think when I first read those words many years ago, I thought, what an awful way to live, I never want to be that way… I want to be happy with my life."

 

"But as I live more, I keep finding life is not, at its root, either/or, but closer to both/and. The divine dissatisfaction that Martha speaks of is what I feel at the root of creation… because it is so clear, feeling the divine perfection coming through and then seeing how imperfect it is as I seek to bring it into form.

 

"And yet there is also a feeling of perfection in its imperfection, so that those words no longer hold the same meaning as before. It is Martha Graham’s queer "divine dissatisfaction" as it rests in the arms of the unchanging.

 

"There is such joy and aliveness in it, this feeling at the source of creation. It is the beat of the universe, in its unendingly changing form.

 

"Let’s dare to be sacred fools, dancing with life and allowing its vitality to be translated through us into action. In and through our own queer divine dissatisfaction, let’s allow our own unique expression to find its life in this world, for the sake of all."

Lee Robert
"Cowgirl Jazz"

www.leeleemusic.com
602-540-0063

7 comments

  • Holly Parsons
    Holly Parsons
    Thank you my friend. I spent much of the day writing on the cliffs at Torrey Pines, ensconced in beauty, adrift interpreting the wind. Wandering between lines and wondering after myself the what and why I need write. Is there a purpose ... do my poems connect, all exactly swept away by your inspired message today, thank you Lee!

    Thank you my friend.
    I spent much of the day writing on the cliffs at Torrey Pines, ensconced in beauty, adrift interpreting the wind. Wandering between lines and wondering after myself the what and why I need write. Is there a purpose ... do my poems connect, all exactly swept away by your inspired message today, thank you Lee!

  • Sherry Stewart
    Sherry Stewart
    Lee...this is so timely for me! Last night I was getting ready to burn a cd of of some of the songs I've done with friends (recorded on a little portable device, so nothing fancy of course) and so I decided to listed to them before putting them in the queue for making the disk. I was so disappointed and down on myself...these suck! who is gonna want to listen to this? Why do I waste my time on this? But then I realized this weird but essential truth: I cannot not waste my time on it. There is something about the creative process that makes me need to do it. A high that comes with the right note or rhyme that cannot be explained. So it's interesting that you send this to day. It mirrors what I experienced just yesterday, and affirms that I am not alone in my dissatisfaction and pursuit of something that is so elusive yet needs to be pursued none the less. Hope you are well girl! Love your blog -- it encourages and inspires me and is such a gift that you to share these creative insights with us. Are you gonna be in Jackson this summer? I am going to try to make it out there to touch base will all my soul sisters. Would be great to see you and play! love, Sherry

    Lee...this is so timely for me! Last night I was getting ready to burn a cd of of some of the songs I've done with friends (recorded on a little portable device, so nothing fancy of course) and so I decided to listed to them before putting them in the queue for making the disk. I was so disappointed and down on myself...these suck! who is gonna want to listen to this? Why do I waste my time on this? But then I realized this weird but essential truth: I cannot not waste my time on it. There is something about the creative process that makes me need to do it. A high that comes with the right note or rhyme that cannot be explained.

    So it's interesting that you send this to day. It mirrors what I experienced just yesterday, and affirms that I am not alone in my dissatisfaction and pursuit of something that is so elusive yet needs to be pursued none the less.

    Hope you are well girl! Love your blog -- it encourages and inspires me and is such a gift that you to share these creative insights with us. Are you gonna be in Jackson this summer? I am going to try to make it out there to touch base will all my soul sisters. Would be great to see you and play!

    love,
    Sherry

  • Becky Curtis
    Becky Curtis
    Dear Lee I had never seen this Divine Dissatisfaction quote but know deeply how it feels. I am sure you have felt it too. And the wonderful thing about it is that it doesn't only apply to artistic endeavors like ours, but also in every day life......How we create each day. This would be a great topic for the Hiker Chicks cocktail hour. I thought about you this last weekend and said a little prayer for your performance. How did it go? One of these days, you are going to be performing somewhere and you will look out in the audience and see two Hiker Chicks smiling back. Guess who? Keep us posted on your performances. Spring is starting to bloom here in the South. Lots has happened over the last few months but it will take a long evening and a bottle of organic wine to hit the highlights. We are fine and wiser for the experience. How much longer will you be in Phoenix? We can't wait for April to go up to NC and open up the cabin. Thanks again for the wonderful quote. I have several friends who need to see it. Love, Becky

    Dear Lee
    I had never seen this Divine Dissatisfaction quote but know deeply how it feels. I am sure you have felt it too. And the wonderful thing about it is that it doesn't only apply to artistic endeavors like ours, but also in every day life......How we create each day. This would be a great topic for the Hiker Chicks cocktail hour.
    I thought about you this last weekend and said a little prayer for your performance. How did it go? One of these days, you are going to be performing somewhere and you will look out in the audience and see two Hiker Chicks smiling back. Guess who? Keep us posted on your performances.
    Spring is starting to bloom here in the South. Lots has happened over the last few months but it will take a long evening and a bottle of organic wine to hit the highlights. We are fine and wiser for the experience.
    How much longer will you be in Phoenix? We can't wait for April to go up to NC and open up the cabin.
    Thanks again for the wonderful quote. I have several friends who need to see it.
    Love,
    Becky

  • Peggy Malone
    Peggy Malone
    Oh Dear Lee.. You izzzz a deep thinker... Your dad must have been a performer also? In my simple little way of talking...Yesterday..while singing at a Senior Home...I just didn't feel up to snuff..if you know what I mean... It was an effort for me to get through the hour.. Couldn't seem to get enough air in my lungs.. and as I pushed through the hour...Later...I was approached by 2 or 3 of these sweet residents... with almost tears in their eyes..saying how much it means to them when I come... So... God was patting me on the back to say ' Go for it!' love ya..; Peggy

    Oh Dear Lee..
    You izzzz a deep thinker... Your dad must have been a performer also?
    In my simple little way of talking...Yesterday..while singing at a Senior Home...I just didn't feel up to snuff..if you know what I mean... It was an effort for me to get through the hour.. Couldn't seem to get enough air in my lungs.. and as I pushed through the hour...Later...I was approached by 2 or 3 of these sweet residents... with almost tears in their eyes..saying how much it means to them when I come... So... God was patting me on the back to say ' Go for it!'
    love ya..;
    Peggy

  • Naomi Rhode
    Naomi Rhode
    Hmmm, so wondrously contemplative. I often say there are: 1. The speech I gave 2. The speech I think I gave 3. The speech I wish I had given 4. The speech they heard me give 5. The speech they remembered 6. The speech they acted on THE ONE YOU GAVE WAS WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Blessings, dear one...Naomi

    Hmmm, so wondrously contemplative.
    I often say there are:
    1. The speech I gave
    2. The speech I think I gave
    3. The speech I wish I had given
    4. The speech they heard me give
    5. The speech they remembered
    6. The speech they acted on

    THE ONE YOU GAVE WAS WONDERFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Blessings, dear one...Naomi

  • Don Thoren
    Don Thoren
    Dearest Lee I enjoy you so much. While I love all my memories of your parents, we are creating new memories with you and Lynn – two fabulous women in their own right. My wife is Kathleen. She has a web site for her seminar - http://theamazingyousystem.com/ where you can learn more about her and what she does. I have 4 new You Tube video’s up and one of Kathleen and I together. If you go to You Tube, just enter Don Thoren on the search line and you can peek!!!

    Dearest Lee

    I enjoy you so much. While I love all my memories of your parents, we are creating new memories with you and Lynn – two fabulous women in their own right.

    My wife is Kathleen. She has a web site for her seminar - http://theamazingyousystem.com/ where you can learn more about her and what she does.

    I have 4 new You Tube video’s up and one of Kathleen and I together. If you go to You Tube, just enter Don Thoren on the search line and you can peek!!!

  • Karyn Trout
    Karyn Trout
    Nice, Lee -- I too say it's all about opening up and letting the work out. The perfection as you've captured here in spirit, is in its been valid, alive, authentic, true -- not in its being flawless. If it's real -- that's what matters. If it lives -- that's what matters. I look out my widow and see all these trees in our forest -- each one is perfect -- not because it is exactly straight (none are) but because they are alive, growing, thriving and exactly: Trees -- and when they bloom -- ah, it is Divine. Karyn

    Nice, Lee -- I too say it's all about opening up and letting the work out. The perfection as you've captured here in spirit, is in its been valid, alive, authentic, true -- not in its being flawless. If it's real -- that's what matters. If it lives -- that's what matters. I look out my widow and see all these trees in our forest -- each one is perfect -- not because it is exactly straight (none are) but because they are alive, growing, thriving and exactly: Trees -- and when they bloom -- ah, it is Divine.

    Karyn

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