Thursday, March 10, 2005

From Martha to Ursula to Me and You

I'm having a bad day, and stumbled across an entry in another blog from someone who seems to be having a rather similar bad day.

This reminded me of one of the most inspiring quotes I've ever come across, and which I keep on a piece of paper in my wallet so it's always there.

I ran across it in Dear Genius, the wonderful collection of the letters of Ursula Nordstrom published by HarperCollins a few years ago. Ursula was the brilliant, brave head of children's books at Harper & Row (in its various permutations) and she coaxed into being (among other books) Where the Wild Things Are; Harriet the Spy; Goodnight, Moon; Harold and the Purple Crayon; and Charlotte's Web. She's one of my personal household goddesses and one of the people I hope to meet in heaven.

Ursula used to provide this Martha Graham quote (which she carried in her purse) to writers who were in crisis, and when I first read it I was so moved had to close the book and sit still for quite a long time to assimilate it.

Anyhow, the quote:

"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. 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."

I'll drink to that. And I don't even drink.


Anonymous said...

I've always loved "Where The Wild Things Are" from my childhood. Several years ago, I was introduced to "Goodnight Moon" & "Harold & the Purple Crayon" & re-discovered "Charlotte's' Web". Alas, I've only heard of "Harriet the Spy". I'll have to check her out.
Thanks for the quote, too.

lori said...

New to your blog, having just heard an old podcast on knitpicks with your interview. Thanks for this quote, I really needed it today. As a therapist, you rarely get to know when or how you make a difference, so I just wanted to let you know that you did!

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