I've known my needs all my life. If anyone asked, I proclaimed passionately: I am countryspun, I prosper in primeval elements. Validated by naturalness, confirmed by simplicity, space and silence, wisps of wind whisper my identity into my sensitive ears. Then, I can be the quintessential me.
But the world doesn't do our bidding, does it? Home for me is a noisy, complicated, artificial city. I have to make up what I miss: ''. . . tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones.'' I search for animals and plants: cats with their kittens in vacant lots, rabbits in parks, snails in window boxes, wildflowers pushing through pavement . . . many of us are alien to our environment. Imagination, so hard to summon up in the center of civilization , quails at the sound of sirens, wilts within hot, sun-baked walls and almost perishes in crowds of pushy people. Then, it needs stimulation quickly, even from alien sources.
The other day, after reciting a litany of numbers to place a credit card call with a telephone operator, I heard a recorded voice repeating nonstop: VALID, VALID, VALID. ''Who in the world is that ?'' I asked as the real, live operator cut back in. ''You weren't supposed to hear that,'' she answered. ''Our validating computer got stuck, but there's no doubt that you're valid. I'll put your call through now.''
I had been validated by computer. I had been singled out by technology: ''the knack of so arranging the world that we need not experience it.'' I wouldn't have dreamed that a canned voice, stuck in its computerized track, could provide confirmation of me to me, but it had. Firm, determined, it emphasized my validity, my privilege to be. I seized the moment to swell in agreement and renewal. Tingles of conviction surged up my spine, lifting my shoulders, chin and eyes. A talisman, a message I wasn't meant to hear had come crackling over the cables to stir my sense of myself. Heaven knows I hadn't sought affirmation in that form, but it served, and it was only sensible of me to be appreciative.
Yes, I said to myself, I am valid indeed: sound, sufficient, sanctioned by powers of spirit, and grateful for the reminder.
''. . . and there is good in everything,'' the quote from Shakespeare ends. Even an electronic computer can infuse one's being.
Perhaps I need not proclaim my preferences so loudly. The unique I, always in process within, grows like tendrils of truth. Budding, sprouting, seeding to bud again, all sorts of wondrous happenings can keep my essence green.