Am I an artist?

I have goals. One of them is to secure independence. I want to do the work that I choose, when I choose to do it and where I choose to do it. I fancy myself an artist, but am I really? I create things. I always have. I began with pencil drawings. From there, I put oil on canvas. I have conjured stories. I have composed music. I have constructed homes and gardens. Does that make me an artist? I have received very little financial compensation for any of these creations. In which case, it follows that I did most of it for my own enjoyment. I am quite sure some would argue that the preceding sentence is the definition of being an artist. The truest artistic experience there is. “L’art pour l’art.” Art for art’s sake. However, I do not feel like an artist. Art is not my career, as much as I would like it to be. If I could tell people that my art pays the bills, could I finally call myself an artist? This is a constant source of torture for me. Even more frustrating is when I read about these “tortured” artist who can channel their self-loathing, hatred, rage, pain, etc. into their work and make it better. Why? Because I haven’t figured out how to do that yet!

I can assure you that I have plenty of self-loathing. I am apathetic. I am a liar. I am constantly letting down everyone around me. I am disrespectful. I pass judgement on others. I have hatred. Mostly aimed inward for the reasons I just listed, but also at the most grievous of atrocities like the breaking of trust and all of the rape that dominates the news these days. I have rage. Our school system is failing on a massive scale, leaving our children and our nation grossly unprepared for the future. And, instead of our government doing something about it, or doing anything more than lining their own pockets, they use their unparalleled resources to spy on us. All of these things cause me great pain. After all, I am a member of this diseased species, living on planet earth. As one of my favorite artists once said, “if you’re not affected, you’re not paying attention.” Yet, when I find myself circling the drain, I don’t feel much like creating.

On the contrary, I feel truly inspired when I stand on the highest peaks of love, gratitude, joy, acceptance and support. Maybe I am an optimist after all. But again, this seems at odds with what I hear from and read about other artist. So, I ask again, am I really an artist? I dream of a life where I can be continuously surrounded by my sources of inspiration, as well as the time and tools to allow it to manifest, so that when the spark of creation arrives, there would be no delay in its genesis. I see many hindrances to me arriving at such a place and arriving at such a place would eradicate those many hindrances. That, my friends, is what Joseph Heller would call a Catch 22. Perhaps one day I will find myself there. I truly can see it. If I do, will I finally be an artist?