Why on earth does anyone actually enjoy the taste of grapefruit?! It’s bitter, awful, and all over grocery stores here. I don’t understand it.
Anyway, I am always asked, why go for a masters in Shakespeare, such a particular subject, and what will you even do with it anyway? Well, the truth is, I have no idea what I’ll do with it; I’ve been pursuing degree after degree to better my writing ability, and apart from that I don’t really know what I’ll do with it. I’m sort of here to figure out my life, I suppose. As far as why go for it? My best answer is, why not? Why do any of the silly nonsense we do in life, why even bother to get any degree and do anything besides mould over in disenactment? Anyone want to give me an actually good reason not to, then I’ll gladly melt into a pool of slosh, but I can find none and I honestly don’t believe there is one.
So that’s to get to the point where I commit to my act of writing this letter, which I suppose had to come at some moment or the other, and it’s best I put it now in such circumstances. So, I write to say, please, when you get older, don’t fall for a jerk, creep, or simply anyone who doesn’t cherish and respect you quite utterly. There’s some terrible people out there — I don’t need to ramble on about them to let it be true (Shakespeare wrote quite enough goons for all that) — but there’s also some fantastically good men, please fall for one of them. Fall for a guy who’s okay with you wanting to ride a unicycle and eat grapefruit, even if it’s awful. Fall for a guy who’s okay with you pursuing some ridiculous dream, someone who’s not just okay with it, but someone who’s genuinely excited and adamant about your dreams. I know, it’s not that easy, people aren’t always that clear and straight to follow. Perhaps I follow too ridiculous an ideal, being the sort of person who dreams to live in essentially a zeppelin up in the sky (such as Up) — yes, that is my real dream — to live in the sky with a pet fox. So, obviously I’ll want you to fall for someone so ridiculous to embrace your dreams, regardless how absurd they be, and obviously I’ll hope it be as easy to find such a person as it is to dream them.
I don’t believe it’s too ridiculous an idea to imagine such people to be found, yet I know, from my own way of (not) finding your mother, that it can certainly be difficult and embittering. It’s sort of like finding a dissertation topic, I discover. A question, a person captures you, and yet you so often find that it is not what you would hope, that it does not follow through to be the dream you would imagine it be. This can be such a difficult thing. For the sake of dissertations, I have found that that which makes any dissertation or research question unique is not necessarily the question, but the individual who is asking the question. Without our individual dreams to blossom as a cherished rose, questions only falter into general obscurity; they are unique in their cherished state, by the one who dreams them.
So far, my two very favourite cherished states here, are Hall’s Croft (which is quite lovely) and the beautiful Guild Chapel, who seems to have often found itself with an un-cherishing lover through history. (The chapel’s stained-glass smashed and its beautiful wall paintings whitewashed over to ‘deCatholicise’ it for the sake of puritan madness.) The Reformation certainly had its necessities for returning to actual Biblical bases, yet it was not without its casualties either. Theological troubles aside, I find this destruction of truly beautiful and painstaking art to be rather heartbreaking. It seems people are too eager to wash what they’d rather not be away, to paint someone a colour they’re not, to cover over what they’d not have. Rather than open their eyes to see such beauty as is present, as God wove into their fabric of being, they allow identity to be denied for the sake of perspective-indulgence. What is the point in it? I can see no reason to white wash each other, painting over who we are — it’s just pointless and absurd. Our own perspective cannot be a destructive blindfold.
Some, far more cynical than myself (such as Stephen Greenblatt), have argued that Shakespeare’s grave of “cursed be he that moves my bones” insists he not be bothered to spend his eternal slumber with his ‘cursed’ wife Anne, so obviously insisting he was not particularly fond of her. This case is mostly made on the basis that few of his love stories follow anything past the initial ‘spark’ of love (never portraying an aged happy couple) and that he obviously spent very little time at home with his wife. I suppose, with such a perspective, this could be the case, yet I believe, given how much he took care (in a distant sense) of Anne in her life (owning the largest house in Stratford and living in essential luxury while her husband lived in often very menial abodes in dirty London), it is a stronger case with a more positive perspective to assume otherwise. I hope this bitter perspective doesn’t overtake you in life, yet I will hope to cherish you still, if it does, urging you toward sweet beauty. Perhaps she was a grapefruit, perhaps she wasn’t, I like to believe she wasn’t and neither were he. I lean on the side of positivity and this asserts my preference of embracing the beauty of others, regardless their faults.
So, that’s to say, I hope you don’t find a grapefruit who’s far too bitter, even for the sake of sugar. To be cherished is to make the individual blossom and to fight with such continual effort of love, for this cherishing, necessitates a positivity, I believe. Certainly God cherishes us and certainly this ought to drive us into a positive love of others, a discovery of our individual beauty. This is the Gospel, after all. I don’t know how hard it will be for you, and perhaps it’s odd for me to write any of this at all, given you don’t necessarily exist and who knows when or, heaven forbid, if you will. I suppose who I truly write to, in these instances of my life, are any girl: if you were my daughter this is who I would fight to be for you, this is the sort of father I would hope I may stand as. This is what I hope for you. I would cherish you for you. I would love you, always encouragingly, always caringly, always eager to fight for who you are, to fight for the delightful thing that makes you so fantastic. I believe every father ought to be this, and it breaks my heart that not all are, that any girl should have a careless father, any man who carelessly ‘loves’ them. It breaks my heart that any of us should be whitewashed and embittered, that such beautiful art be crushed.
Go jump on a unicycle and be yourself, my darling, whatever beautiful creature that be.
Feel free to peruse my other letters in the Avon Epistles collection.
- Sydney Robert Jones, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Stratford on Avon, early 20th Century
- The Guild Chapel, Stratford-upon-Avon