I am reading a book about Irish folklore and mythologies by W.B. Yeats—it is as though he is speaking to me, he is not Mr. Formal with his poetry, he is conversational, and I can hardly believe it's him!—correction, I am rereading this book, and, judging by the poem fragment (my own) that I found folded up inside of it (my books are reticules), I know that when I first read this book, I was living in Northern California (miserably) and breaking off from my old self to form a better self. I have said in a former paragraph that moving from figuration to abstraction was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I had originally phrased it as the hardest thing I've ever done, but I had to rewrite that, knowing as I did that the very hardest thing I ever did was work to change myself for the better, to transform myself from a benighted woman to a better-seeing one, to take the stuff of myself, examine all of it, and to then make the changes that were necessary to become a higher functioning person, a better person, one who made better choices and became her own best advocate. I will also tell you that during this period, I was in such profound psychological agony, there were times when I thought, moment to moment, that I would die, that I would die from the agony of going from being one creature, whom I knew well, to being another one, whom I did not yet know, but who was necessary because she existed in the future—I had to reach her, and I had no roadmap! So, yes, that was harder than anything I've ever done, including living with the nihilism of abstraction. At any rate, in the margins of this poem fragment are written the words, "Writing these stories until I see myself—voice, of course, psychology" (no and, no ampersand). This poem was never finished. I had set out for it to be an epic poem, and although I wrote pages upon pages of it, I was not able to sustain it over time, and I was not able to pull it together into a cohesive single piece. I was often setting out to write epic poems in those times, and just as often falling short, with the exception of an exceptional poem I wrote called "The Devil Spoke to Me of Taos," but that was not really an epic poem, it was just a long one. I am so far off topic! I have to tell you, because I brought it up, I cannot just leave it unfinished, that would not be fair to the thing I am doing, which is telling you things for reasons, telling you little things that possess beginnings, middles and endings. The note to myself, "Writing these stories until I see myself" (et cetera)—talk about stating the obvious! That was the equivalent of writing, "Breathing so I can live." Of course I tell my stories in order to know myself, of course I do, why else do I do it, why else do I take the elements of my life and shape them into art if not to know myself? Why else! (Ah, but there are other reasons besides, and they are not each of them my own, some of them belong to that which won't be named, I think.) But that is not what I set out to tell you! Now I must do so a little perfunctorily because I have spent your patience yet again—I am profligate with it! One of the stories in the Yeats book is called "The Enchanted Woods," and this story tells of a man who lived his entire life in the woods, taking care of path-clearing, these were roomy woods, as Yeats has it, and the man was basically at one with both the natural and the supernatural aspect of these woods, these "roomy woods," as the poet wrote. My point is a simple one, it is a far simpler outcome than the road I took to reach it, and it is this: I can think of no better way to spend one's life than as a path-clearer in the enchanted woods. Tending to the forest, tending to the forest's ways, listening, listening, seeing, feeling, being, breathing.