Questions of happiness are moot and irrelevant. We can't be 100% happy any way, since, if nothing else, the transience of life makes infinite happiness impossible. To me the art of being happy is a process, not a product; it's a way of living and being as full of what each moment has too offer. And of course, our failure to exploit the fullest potential of every moment is also human and something we accept, even embrace.
There's always more to life than we can take and to me that's a comfort. How small and petty the universe must be if all it does is conform to our expectations, our hopes and dreams? And how wide the spaces before us if we realise that we're part of a vast realm of possibilities, that indeed, if we kill ourselves or die, life WILL continue without us. Why should we be gladdened if the world should stop just because we cease? I'd rather my life colour and be coloured by this life's richness than to demand that the world work as I bid.
Of course we work to matter, to leave our mark and our legacy, in art, in children, in love (let's not forget love, and memory, its ashes. Even ashes are a palpable trace of being, they stain). My idea of life lived well is one in which we are steeped in its beauty and its offerings, in which every breath we breathe reminds us we are alive and that is precious and fragile and good.
Art to me IS work, but I go with Gibran in saying work is love made visible. Not saying that ALL work is love manifest, but that what we do SHOULD come from that fundamental source of our passion and life's joy. Every thing we strive to do should be an expression of our need and delight to be alive. I've been job hunting for a long time to find that place where this is true, but it could also be true that it is not circumstances alone but our selves that determines whether we find our centres.
Even the greatest artist may pale of his work, when it becomes routine, when it becomes a burden rather than a blessing. But is it the fault of the soil or of the hand that tills it?
He may need to leave it aside, to find a flower, lover, walk for a coffee, re-ignite his joy of living. To me, a person centred in life cannot be bored or tired in the soul. Doing nothing of worth is the most soul sapping thing I know of (like my present job). But even in the midst of the void, it is we who determine where our worth lies, and how to find it. So I write poems during my long mindless hours, and cultivate contentment there.
Living well is not easy, it is the most challenging and demanding art we will ever encounter, encompassing all others we might attempt. It is our deepest love (or for that matter lack of love) made visible.
It's an art because life is not an industrial assembly line; we do not live or create on command, so many units per hour. We are creatures of flight as well as fight; beings of inner rhythms we have forgotten how to waltz to without stumbling.
Yes, I'm an artist. I'm working hard to be the best me I can, the me I want to create and leave memories / traces of, whether in poetry or in the way I walk, make love, fail to dance, choose a flower, remember sunlight. Where every action leaves the mark of having come from a unique soul shape, a private choreography in tune with the larger ballet.
It's a full time job. And I haven't tired of it yet.