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    I think I have said, or not said, that the paintings are changing, they are deepening. (I have not said that; I am saying it now. They are deepening.) I am no longer the painter I was. It was an arduous struggle, it was like pushing against the desert wind, it was like shouldering the burden of a thousand books while running a race, it was like anticipating the shape of what did not yet exist though its shape required anticipation in order to come into existence—no! It was not like that, it was that! But perhaps it is too early for me to crow. Perhaps if I crow now, what I am crowing about will vanish, too embarrassed in its thin young skin to survive my crowing, it will die of embarrassment! My superstitions do not permit crowing, and yet—and yet. (So said the poet.) Almost everybody would have had me stand in place. Those who would not have, he—especially—who would not have had me stand in place, to him I owe a loyalty that is larger than just my commonplace dog's loyalty. He knows who he is, who encouraged me to push forward, to push through with my dim vision, what I could only vaguely sense and couldn't see, he did not ever say to me, "But stay in place, stay put, do what you do, everybody likes it!" He did not say this; it was the chorus he didn't join, but he does not join choruses, so his is a voice worth listening to. I did not stay in place, though the chorus sang for me to. I did not keep making paintings everybody liked, though the chorus sang for me to. I began making paintings nobody liked (except him), though the chorus sang for me not to. I continued, and explored, and chased my vision, though it was very dim and often dissolved under my touch. I couldn't grasp it, yet I chased it. I was persistent (I am persistent!), I persisted through doubt and failure and a chorus of No's, and I persisted and I persisted and I would not deny what I believed (on zero evidence) might come into being if only I persisted—what else do I have to do? What, if not that, is my job on this earth, what if not to chase a vision I believe in though I am not given evidence of it? After all, my job is one of faith, it is discipline and faith, and that is my job. Those who do not see the value in what I do—and I assume they are many—it is because they do not see what underlies it, that I am upholding the tradition of true discipleship in devoting my life to art. It is not just the paintings I make, but the faith I hold that one's inchoate vision can be coaxed into wholeness and life with enough persistence and passion and self-belief. It is what art represents—not only the artist's vision, but her quest and struggle and faith. You see, I wasn't wrong: in persisting, I broke through. And so I must assume that I am doing the right job, whether I am paid for it or not, and mostly, I am not. I did not know that this was where this paragraph was headed, but here we are, it is as if I am holding a torch high overhead, and now I do not know what to do with this torch, I do not wish to extinguish it, and yet I cannot carry it into the day with me because that would be impractical.