To my dearest daughter,
I have yet to meet you or your mother — God willing I am blessed by such — yet until then, I write to you in a time of tremendous change for me. I am moving to the odd little town of Stratford-upon-Avon, to study Shakespeare for a year and receive my masters in the word of the bard. I would lie if this was a mere excursion of passion, for while I love Shakespeare very much, I also send off for the sake of distraction.
You see, oh dear daughter of mine, I hold an immense belief that nothing is impossible for any of us. I truly see that all totters upon our willingness of effort and our willingness of enduring, whether it be suffering or time. I hope I may raise you to embrace such an ideal; yet if, for whatever reason, this is not communicated, then I communicate it now. Passion ought to drive us, and ought to drive so, that we render any opposing fear we might succumb to dust. Respond to life like how Beatrice does, in that:
There’s little of the melancholy element in her, my lord :
she is never sad, but when she sleeps ; and not ever sad then ;
for I have heard my daughter say she hath often
dreamt of unhappiness, and waked herself with laughing.
– Much Ado About Nothing 2.1.290
Perhaps Shakespeare is being facetious with Beatrice here — I like to think he’s more serious than most take him as, but I’ll let you know if I still feel that way in a year — regardless, this is often what we must do. Sometimes our nightmares really do bleed over to the awoken hours. Sometimes we simply must jot ourselves out of slumber and into laughter by the sake of necessity. We oughtn’t pretend matters are delightful when they’re not, but we can find and sometimes must, to maintain our own sanity, embrace the ridiculousness of life, the absurdity of wonder and impossibilities, the wanderlust of adventure. If all seems retched, and I admit much has these preceding years, then our best route is to assume and grasp, even sometimes blindly and perhaps even stupidly, onto the laughing dream we long in passion for.
In Greek myth the passion of Pan drew him to chase the nymph Syrinx; his passion thus drew the nymph to flee into the form of a river reed; and Pan, still driven in passion, chose to keep Syrinx with him as a flute for his eternity. Passion drives us into madness, it draws us to rejecting the fleeting nightmares, to awake laughing in life. True, Pan should have let Syrinx be and not chase her so, yet, if our intentions run pure and innocent (and not in the lust of Pan), then fighting for what we are passionate for isn’t usually a bad thing at all. Sometimes even, this same passion drives us into fleeing for distraction, to embracing dreams and impossibilities, such as turning into a reed, which, I admit, would be rather silly for you or me to do. Nonetheless, I write to you these Avon epistles as like a reed that sits upon a river, as one swapped out of reality and into another form. Given, right now that river is Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (which is far too big for me), waiting for my next flight to depart. I write as one turned into a madman, into the wanderlust, dream driven writer who’s chosen to embrace letters and fantastical words than deal with the lot of current life.
And though, my dear, that is what we are to be. Our passion drew us to chase our own little nightmares; yet, being the keeper of all river and reed alike, Christ became a mere weed among the waters, became a stick we might choose, might pluck up and pick as our flute for eternity. What I’m saying is, nothing is of impossibility because we stand with an impossible Flute, because He who made us chose to be alongside us, no matter the consequence to Himself. I suppose I could quote some Bible verse here, but I believe you understand well enough what I’m saying.
My dearest daughter, there is nothing impossible and no dream too ludicrous to embrace. Right now, this all feels like a big illusion, a dream where I have turned into something else, someone else, and yet this proves that we can wander into whatever unknown we desire and imagine. Whoever you are, whoever you wind up as, and whatever this coming year winds me up as, never forget to draw yourself into a passionate, adventuring, and dreaming for the wonderful, madwoman.
Embrace the wonderful, my daughter.
Feel free to peruse my following letters in the Avon Epistles collection.
Sydney Robert Jones, Holy Trinity Church, Stratford on Avon, early 20th C.