Sober City Redux: Day 87

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What is an artist? Who gets to slap that noble age old badge of honor and mystery on their chest and rightfully wear it with pride? Lots of people claim to be artists. Painters, musicians, actors, comedians, writers, singers, dancers, poets, chefs, designers, film makers, architects, woodworkers, photographers, etc, etc. Artistry lives in manual labor and office buildings; in parenting and gardening; in coffee shop lattes and beach front properties. It’s everywhere we look and yet only a small fraction of us would ever consider ourselves actual “artists”. What does it take to justifiably call yourself an artist and own it? I struggle with that question more often than not. Maybe I’m an artist because I struggle with it. The word holds so much weight and power to me. It scares me. It excites me. It fuels me when I truly believe in it and it hurts me when I don’t honor it.  

The other day I picked up my guitar for the first time in a long time and I had to clean dust off of it. Unacceptable. I’m deeply ashamed of and devastated by this and also by the amount of unfinished song ideas on my iPhone. Add to that the fact that I haven’t properly acted in well over 2 years and I have ample reasons to strip the title of artist from my mental biography. These things are scary to artists. Idleness is death to an artist, the shame of the artist. Without creating art the artist isn’t. What’s worse, even when producing and creating, the artist constantly questions his or her self worth and value, often to the point of complete destruction or dismissal of the art itself. Shutting down. Tuning out. Giving up. Sacrilege. This is where I’m at. This is where I’m at 85% of always and yet, this is also why I know I am an artist. 
Every true artist since the beginning of time has questioned their art. I don’t know this because of documented evidence, I know this because I live this. Doubt is part of the process of creating everything. Doubt is important. The artist needs doubt to achieve greatness, to perfect the craft, to constantly evolve and stay honest and true. But doubt is a fickle ally. It’s a false friend. A necessary evil that can easily poison the artist mind and turn the artist against the very art he or she must create, and make no mistake, the artist MUST create. The only choice to be made is whether to share it or not. The artist never stops. Art will creep into the daily life of the most suppressed artist and find a way. Countless people have silenced their art for a plethora of justifiable reasons but art cannot truly be silenced in an artist. It will find a way. It will always find a way.
I find myself in the midst of a rebirth of sorts. A reintroduction to myself, to the self that I lost with my father; to the self that got tarnished by time and trauma; to the self that’s been malnourished and ignored for far too long; to the self that never really left. It’s terrifying and exciting and jarring and absolutely necessary. I am one of many and also entirely unique. We all are. The artist thrives when the artist is alive and being alive is a constant beautiful struggle, a strange dance we all dance in our own way, to our own music, in our own time. I am an artist in recovery, an artist rediscovering but an artist none the less. I am an artist and I must not forget. I am an artist and I fight not to quit. I am an artist crawling back from the dead. I am an artist…and I’m not finished yet. 
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