My studio is now silent. Visitors have evaporated to their own spaces. It’s late at night. The brush dashes here and there. Is it habit, addiction, pastime, a need to connect again? Why am I so absurdly happy? I’m thinking of Maya Angelou: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
Over the summer artists have written — out of the blue — to confide the nature of happiness. Although varied, many of the remarks spoke of a universal idea — along the lines of Arthur Schopenhauer’s idea: “Happiness belongs to those who are sufficient unto themselves. All external sources of happiness and pleasure are subject to chance.” Here, in specificity and bravado, are a few fellow-artists’ candid insights into happiness:
To sit and do what I want.
To disappear into my own world.
To support myself handsomely.
To see myself getting better.
To become outrageously famous.
To quit my day job.
To fill the world with my images.
To love and kiss my canvasses.
To be able to concentrate.
To learn perspective.
To be constantly excited.
To calm and center myself.
To know what color can do.
To find for myself a unique style.
To develop a reliable inner peace.
To discover my passion.
To continue to get away with this.
PS: “Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.” (Joseph Addison)
Esoterica: No matter how we cut it, art is a demanding job that requires might and character. “It is neither wealth nor splendour, but tranquillity and occupation, which give happiness.” (Thomas Jefferson)
This letter was originally published as “Happiness” on August 31, 2001.