I am on a quest for permission. Permission from Susan, from Rosslyn, even from family and friends. Most of all I am on a quest for permission from myself. This morning a serendipitous swirl of accidental-coincidental happenings helped me realize this. Chief among them (and the rightful recipients my profound gratitude) in the order they fluttered across my morning:
- newly arrived “intense black” (actually deep green) fountain pen ink from Wordsworth & Black;
- a joy-filled (cheerful words and jolly doodles) letter from my mother, Melissa Davis;
- timely, astute, perspective bending counsel from Virginia Woolf; and
- even more timely but equally astute, epiphanic insight from Nick Bantock.
In the photograph above, a few artifacts hint at the serendipitous series of events that, to my arguably esoteric way of thinking, fall into a phenomenon I refer to as rhyming. Sometimes the universe rhymes, or as poet Jeffrey Harrison might offer, if you’re receptive to it, you might hear “The Singing Underneath“. I’d best stand aside and let him guide us.
“just beneath the world we see,
there is a silent singing that breaks out
at moments, in flickering points of light.”
— Jeffrey Harrison, “The Singing Underneath”
The fountain pen, clogged with dry ink, awaiting new ink, had been a metaphorical reminder that I was stuck. Clogged. I wasn’t flowing as I needed to be. But new ink arrived just in time. The crusty piston pulled clean water in and pushed it out again. Unclogging with each plunge of the piston. Anticipation as I drew up the new ink. And then lines on paper. Perfect. Flowing again.
My mother’s 2-page note, complete with her unique illustrations, was an attentive parade of grateful acknowledgments gathered during a recent adventure together. Unselfconscious. Whimsical. Honest.
Virginia Woolf’s words needn’t be explained, only shared.
“He chooses; he synthesizes; in short, he has ceased to be a chronicler; he has become an artist.” — Virginia Woolf
I don’t know where I came across these words, and I’m failing now to find them. Perhaps I’ve misattributed this quotation? This morning at least, it doesn’t matter. The shift in perspective is precisely what I needed to consider. to prepare me for the keystone concept that gathered it all together.
Artist and author, Nick Bantock, shared a reflection on Griffin & Sabine that resonated right for me.
THE idea of writing a love letter to oneself sounds both indulgent and cheesy, and yet done in the name of self-acceptance rather than narcissism, I feel there’s much merit to the act.
I think when I wrote the following passage, from Sabine to Griffin, I was doing exactly that, I was articulating an inner need to bringing together and unite my opposite selves, my logical and intuitive personas:
“I have loved you in every manner that my imagination could contrive. I have wanted you so deeply that my body sang with pain and pleasure. You have been my obsession, my passion, my philosophers stone of fantasy. You are my desire, my longing, my spirit. I love you unconditionally. Do you hear me, Griffin? Do you see that I cherish you beyond question, that you have nothing to prove to me? You are making your journey to secure yourself. I am already tethered to your side. If you can love yourself, as I love you, there will be no dislocation — you will be whole. Bring yourself home to me and I will immerse you in every ounce of tenderness I possess. Sabine.”
Looking back, I can see that whilst the tale of G and S was certainly an expression of romantic longing, it was also a quest for permission. I was trying to give myself, and others, the encouragement to be both opposite and whole. — Nick Bantock (Source: Facebook, November 14, 2022)
Eureka! In revealing what he’s come to understand about what compelled him to create the Griffin & Sabine books, his words struck that ineffable something that Susan and I are grappling with and that I’ve been exploring in Rosslyn Redux — wondering, yearning, exploring, growing toward, backsliding and second guessing, and then venturing tentatively out again — over the last couple of years. I genuinely believe that he has captured succinctly and lucidly our journey: it’s “a quest for permission.”
I’ve referenced frequently, perhaps too frequently, an ongoing transformation in our relationship with Rosslyn, an evolution in our scheming and prognosticating and brainstorming. I’ve acknowledged liminality and the sometimes bittersweet, sometimes conflicted emotions that manifest suddenly and unpredictably as we attempt to navigate from comfort and stability toward the unfamiliar, unknown. At last I’ve stumbled on what I’ve needed to know. My quest for permission needn’t require such wayward roving. It is first and foremost my own consent I’m questing after. And part of accepting this is granting myself permission to embrace art above chronicle. I’ve suspected this. Dithered. Wondered. Worried. But this morning a confident confluence is flowing. And I’m ready…