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On the Importance of Being You

The brilliant dancer and choreographer Martha Graham said “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 it will 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 yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”

Or, put more simply: Be yourself; all the other jobs are taken.

So many of us share the sentiment that we are not important. I know I struggle with this. Indeed it’s been the central obstacle to getting my work out in the world. The thinking goes something like this: “What can I possibly offer that hasn’t already been said, and better?” Especially now, with thousands of blogs and podcasts, it can feel futile to believe that any one thing we can offer can cut through the noise and have an impact.

But here’s the thing: as Martha Graham so beautifully said: Each one of us is an original, a one-of-a-kind. Another way this was expressed was by my late husband, as he was reflecting on the inevitable end of his life. ‘My biggest regret’, he’d said, ‘is that once I’m gone, no one else will see the world in exactly the same way’. A true Sagittarius, he was able to appreciate his own unique perspective on the world and it’s importance in adding something necessary to the collective trajectory of the human experience.

I have a Virgo Moon (always the perfectionist) so it’s a little harder for me. And yet I’ve seen, time and again, that the littlest thing - a comment, a smile, a reflection or insight, offered at just the right moment, either from me to someone or from someone to me, has literally made all the difference. My belief in synchronicity, or the idea that there are no meaningless coincidences, has taught me that we are all pollinators, as important at spreading encouragement, wisdom, and the nectar of human feeling and possibility as any of the honeybees the world relies on to exist.

The fact that we can’t ever know how we’ve impacted another - how a forgotten touch or comment, even a scarf tied just so, might have been the inspiration for another, a flash of recognition, a beacon of light in a dark time - is just something we have to take on faith, a concept that of itself has fallen out of fashion. And yet faith, the ability to believe in things unseen, is the glue that has held humanity together since the beginning: Faith that the sun will rise, that seeds will sprout, and that, improbably, in a chaotic, unpredictable world, we will somehow go on being.

So I encourage us all to show up in the world, fully ourselves, as the threads we all are in the great, gorgeous tapestry of life. We are multi-colored, textured and shaded, shadow and light. And we are meant to be shared, in all our glorious imperfections. So let’s get to pollinating. I can’t wait to rub wings with you, somewhere in the field.

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Image by Annie Spratt
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